It was a beautiful Saturday morning in the Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park on Saltspring Island, British Columbia even though it was late November, 2011. A family of four (Dad, Mom, son and daughter) were hiking near the base of Mount Maxwell. The kids were just off the trail some 20 feet or so when the 9 year old daughter stepped down on ground that gave way beneath her. In a heartbeat she was waist deep in a hole - only because she was able to grab nearby branches. The old well would have consumed her entirely had her frantic grab not been successful. Dad was there in just a few more seconds and got her pulled to safety.
Again, we have an abandoned well story that turns out happily. But I was intrigued by the rest of the story as reported by the Gulf Islands Driftwood, which goes on to write: "When the family returned on Sunday for a closer look...they estimated the well to be at least seven meters (24 feet) deep. Not wanting to attract any attention to the site, the [family] capped the hole with several sheets of plywood and covered the area with leaves and branches."
Yikes! Anyone see a problem with this remedy? Fortunately cooler heads prevailed as the paper also reported: "...an employee with the company that manages the Island's provincial parks, said this was the first time she's heard of such an incident on the island. She said an effort will be made to contact the family, locate the hole and inform BC Parks about the danger." We can only hope that BC Parks will actually remediate the old well once located.
It is literally astounding how many such stories there are of people and animals falling into wells. If you own such a well, make sure it is protected if active and plugged if abandoned.