A Merritt Island, Florida hunter spent more than eight hours trapped in a well filled with water when he made a false step during a night-time rabbit hunt.

While chasing rabbits, Christopher Johnson, 28, stepped on plywood covering a deep well. He was stuck in 12 feet of cold water, another 12 feet from the surface with no means by which to exit.

From about 1:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 20, Johnson treaded water and tried to brace himself against the wall to prevent himself from drowning. He screamed at the top of his lungs for help, but nobody was within earshot in the wooded area he was hunting.

“I panicked. I thought it was over,” Johnson told reporters. “I was there from 1:30 (a.m.) till 10:30 (a.m.), and it got to the point where I started sinking, and it was 12 feet deep.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that a Navy veteran named Jerry Watkins was walking his dog nearby that he heard Johnson’s distress calls. He considered getting his truck to investigate, but thought better of it and called 911 instead. Authorities with the Brevard County Firefighters rushed to the scene where Johnson was secured by rope and given a ladder to climb out on his own. He had to muster all his strength to get out, considering his lengthy time spent in the well overnight.

After a change of clothes and examination by medical responders, he was found only to have minor injuries and was able to go home safe. He said he never particularly noticed this hole, which could have taken his life.

“I’ve been hunting around here my whole life. I’ve never seen that hole. It used to have a concrete over it. I didn’t see it,” Johnson said. “I thought I was dreaming. I thought it was a nightmare. There was no way out.”

Image from Mike Ostrowski (BCNH09) on the flickr Creative Commons

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