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Woman falls into sinkhole in Springvale

A woman has had to be rescued from a 3m-deep hole after the ground opened under her feet while she was hanging washing out in a Melbourne backyard.

The woman, 53, was trapped in the hole at the Olympic Ave home in Springvale South in at least metre-high water for at least 20 minutes before neighbours heard her screams for help just after midday.

Emergency services raced to the backyard and worked frantically to rescue her, fearing throughout the operation the hole could collapse in on top of her.

The woman — a cleaner from Noble Park assisting an elderly woman named Mary who lives in the house — remarkably escaped the ordeal without injury.

It was initially feared a burst water pipe below the backyard may have caused the ground to fall in, with surrounding neighbours warned to be careful in their yards while engineers from City of Greater Dandenong and South East Water investigated.

But the investigation later revealed the hole was an old well that had not been covered properly.

“The well a number of years ago was covered up, but not too satisfactorily and (the cover) degraded over the years to the point where the lady has fallen through,” a council spokeswoman said.

“It was an isolated incident.”

Paramedic Stephanie Palamberis said the woman told her rescuers that she had been hanging washing out in the backyard at about 11.30am when the ground gave way.

“She fell with the dirt and mud, dropping about three metres and landing in waist-deep water. At one stage her head was under the water,” Ms Palamberis said.

“The woman told us she couldn’t touch the bottom of the hole, so was trying to swim and stay afloat, to avoid the risk of further mud collapses.”

CFA trench rescue teams were required to help lift the woman to safety.

CFA Dandenong operations manager Paul Carrigg said about eight rescuers lowered a rope down to the woman, asked her to wrap it around her underarms and hauled her up until they were able to reach her arms and pull her out.


Furious driver admits assault on traffic warden after slapping his HEAD with parking ticket

Dad-of-two Robert Croucher saw red after he was given a fined for parking on double yellows outside his children's school.
A slap-happy driver whacked a parking ticket on to the back of a traffic warden's head after being landed with a fine.
Robert Croucher was dropping his two children off to school at Welholme Community Primary School in Grimsby when he parked illegally on zigzag lines. Minutes later a eagle-eyed traffic attendant slapped a fine on him but a furious Croucher saw red and shouted "Nice one d * head" at warden James Parker.
He then removed the fine off his windshield and tried to stick it to the back of Mr Parker's head.
Martin Howard, prosecuting at Grimsby Magistrates Court, said: "Mr Parker was standing with his back to the defendant when he felt what he described as pain to the head and stumbled forward.
"His colleague later described what had happened. He said the defendant took the ticket off the windscreen of his vehicle, put it on his palm and attempted to stick it to Mr Parker's head.
"The defendant then told them to 'get a real job' before driving away."
When he was nicked, Croucher said he was running late and wasn't aware of the parking restriction.
He admitted one count of assault by beating and one of using threatening and abusive words and behaviour.
The court heard how Croucher, 27, from Grainsby, Lincolnshire, works part-time in an office and is studying for a degree in business management and accounts.
Nick Furman, defending, said Croucher takes his two children to school and then has to rush to get to lectures on time.
Mr Furman added: "In retrospect he fully accepts that he shouldn't have reacted in the way that he did. It was a very unfortunate incident and once which is extremely out of character. He is embarrassed by his actions and has offered his apologies. He stuck the parking ticket on the back of the warden's head and it was in no way meant to be a violent attack."
Croucher was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and made to pay £50 compensation to the victim, £85 costs and a £60 victims' surcharge.
Passing sentence, presiding magistrate Trevor Moss said: "This court doesn't take this lightly. I think it is appalling that someone doing their job trying to keep children outside a school safe should be abused in this way. On top of that, you drove away from the school area in what could be described as a dangerous manner. And to say you didn't think the lines were there to stop people parking, we don't accept. Your behaviour was unacceptable."