Fontana rescue: Woman survives after becoming trapped inside cesspool

A Fontana woman was thankful to be alive after she was rescued after falling into a massive cesspool in the aftermath of a relentless storm that struck Southern California, bringing days of consistent moderate to heavy rainfall. 

The terrifying moments unfolded in the 8200 block of Cherry Avenue just before 10 a.m. after the woman, later identified as Imelda Quintero, fell into the hole when she stepped outside her mobile home. An Urban Search and Rescue Team with the San Bernardino County Fire Department responded to the scene to free her from the confined space. 

The fire department said the cesspool was approximately 25 feet deep and throughout rescue efforts, Quintero was awake and talking.

(San Bernardino County Fire Department)

After rescue crews freed the mother of four from the cesspool, she was taken to an area hospital. She is expected to survive, although she seems to have injuries to her legs. Additionally, Quintero is under observation for possible infections since she fell into the cesspool.

Crews are assessing how much rain contributed to the formation of the cesspool. Quintero's family said they've lived at the home for 20+ years and have had plenty of parties and gatherings on the patio without any issues. 

Quintero's husband told FOX 11 he recently put tiles on the patio, and they didn't know there was a long, unused cesspool lurking below. There may be more on the property that could potentially become dangerous. 

During the storm, the National Weather Service issued numerous weather advisories in the Inland Empire warning residents of the potential for flash flooding. While the storm has passed through the region, the ground remains saturated. 

Recovery efforts were ongoing across the Southland to repair the damage in the storm's aftermath. In some cases, residents became displaced after the storm damaged their homes. 

Rescue crews with the San Bernardino County Fire Department were working to rescue a woman who became trapped in a massive sinkhole on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (San Bernardino County Fire Department)