Woman Trapped in Abandoned Well Sues for $3M

A Pemberton Township woman who was trapped in an abandoned, unsealed well for 36 hours on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst property in 2011 has sued the federal government, seeking $3 million in damages for her injuries.

A court hearing in the case is scheduled for October.

Idsel Marlena Buckland, 43, of the Browns Mills section of the township, filed the suit in June in U.S. District Court in Camden, claiming the base was negligent for creating a hazardous condition.

In its response this month, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Camden denied her claims and asked the court to dismiss the suit.

The suit was filed by attorney Louis J. DeVoto, of the firm of Rossetti & DeVoto in Cherry Hill, and seeks a trial.

Buckland was walking along Trenton Road to her home the evening of Dec. 29, 2011, when she was "harassed by strangers and crossed to the opposite side of the road and into the woods for safety reasons," the suit says.

She "was caused to fall 20 feet into an abandoned, domestic well and sustained serious and permanent physical and emotional injuries," the suit says.

Buckland was found Dec. 31, 2011, by another township resident who knew of abandoned wells on the base property and went to check them after learning of Buckland's disappearance.

She was found, rescued and hospitalized with a broken leg, a badly injured knee, hypothermia, and other injuries.

Shortly after the incident, eight wells, including the one where Buckland fell, were sealed, the suit says.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Irene E. Dowdy filed an answer to Buckland's complaint on Aug. 23.

She said Buckland was negligent, a trespasser on the Joint Base's property at the time of the incident and that her injuries were caused by "third persons over whom the defendant has no control."

This story was reported through a news coverage partnership between NBC10.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer

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