Man in critical condition after 35-foot fall into well: Jerry Fowler fell while doing repairs

Potrero man rescued by firefighers

POTRERO - A man is in critical condition Monday after being rescued from a well in the unincorporated community of Potrero.

Emergency crews conducted a massive rescue effort Sunday that required firefighters from all across the county from Chula Vista to Santee to rescue the man.

He was identified by his wife as 44-year-old Jerry Fowler.

Fowler fell 35 feet down while trying to make repairs on the well on his property.

“My mother-in-law came and told me and I didn’t believe her,” said Jessica Fowler, wife of the victim.

“Jerry’s in the well. That’s all she said,” Jessica told 10News, referring to when her mother-in-law told her what happened.  “And I said no he’s not. She said, ‘I am not lying.’ I came out and he was in the well."

She said she couldn’t bear to watch as they pulled him from the well two hours later.

“I just lost it. I didn’t look. I couldn’t watch," she said.

Unconscious at times and barely able to moan a response, Fowler was rushed to a Mercy Air helicopter that was waiting in an empty field two miles away.  He was transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital.

 “We had to set up our own lifting system.  We call it a tripod – we had mechanical advantage and pulleys and an awful lot of equipment,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Lannon.

Lannon said Sunday's rescue was not typical, but it was one that was a success with the amount of crews who pulled him up.

“We were able to send two people down to safely package him because we had to worry about spinal injuries and that kind of stuff,” he said.

Fire and rescue crews told 10News that every second mattered. They were down 35 feet with water rising up and oxygen low.

Crews also lowered in a 1-inch hose to pump in air and another hose to pump the water out.

It was the only way they could safely work to pull Fowler up to dozens of rescue crews working and waiting above.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday night, a hospital spokesperson told 10News that Fowler was listed in critical condition.

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