Woman Dies in Tragic Fall Through Rotten Floor into Hidden Well Shaft in Old House

An elderly woman tragically lost her life in a freak accident in South Carolina. The 83-year-old was assisting her daughter with moving out of a century-old house when she fell through decaying floorboards and plummeted down a concealed well shaft. The property owner was unaware of the well’s existence, according to local authorities.

The victim, identified as Dorothy Downey, was helping her daughter vacate the house on Park Avenue in Salem, South Carolina. The house, built in 1920 according to property records, held a deadly secret beneath its kitchen floor. Around 2 p.m. on Sunday, as Downey was crossing the kitchen, the floor beneath her collapsed, plunging her into a 48-foot-deep hidden well shaft.

Rescue efforts were immediately launched, but it took nearly four hours to retrieve Downey’s body from the deep hole. Her daughter initially attempted to locate her in the crawlspace beneath the house, but was unsuccessful. Firefighters were eventually able to locate and retrieve Downey, but it was too late.

Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis, who was on the scene, confirmed that Downey had succumbed to blunt force injuries sustained from the four-story fall. The incident, which occurred in the afternoon, was concluded by 6 p.m. when Downey’s body was finally brought to the surface.

In his statement, Addis ruled Downey’s death as an accident. He expressed his shock at the unusual circumstances, stating that in his 31-year career as a coroner, he had never encountered a case like this.

The tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking in old properties. It underscores the importance of thorough inspections and maintenance, particularly in homes with a long history. The hidden well shaft in the century-old South Carolina house was a deadly hazard that claimed an innocent life, a hazard that remained unknown until it was too late.