CHEEKTOWAGA, NY -- A Cheektowaga woman is looking for answers, and help, after soil gave way revealing a hidden well in her yard.
Linda Koteras, who lives at the Wabash Street home with her daughter, is very frustrated.
A few days ago, a hidden well nearly swallowed her four-year-old granddaughter. At the time, Koteras had no idea the well was at least 22 feet deep.
"She stepped in it, and she sunk down, and she said, she's stuck. And, I picked her up and pulled her out and she was soaking wet," says Koteras as she recalled getting her granddaughter out of the hole.
Koteras initially thought the well was a sinkhole, just like the one that recently swallowed a Florida man as he slept in his bed. That man is now presumed dead.
"I was scared. I was terrified. Before we found out it was a well, I was shaking on pins and needles, and I didn't know if it was going to get bigger and was going to engulf the house. It was just terrifying, and I just didn't like it," Koteras said.
Once the dirt gave way, it revealed the old well. While Koteras has lived in her daughter's home for the past decade, she had no idea the well was there. Her family thinks it was likely built by a previous landowner.
"It's amazing. They said it was farmland here before," she says.
She dangerous spot in Koteras' yard has caught her eye in the past. She used to have her mother's lilac plant planted there before moving it.
"We filled it in, and then it would sink a little bit, and then we'd fill some more in, and it would sink a little bit more and that's the only thing. We didn't have any idea that there was a big hole there," she says.
Koteras' other daughter, Shawn, started making phone calls Monday to find out how to fix the problem and how to get help. She was not successful.
"The Highway Department, we called first, Sewer Department, Police Department, Sewer Engineering, and a plumber, insurance company," said Koteras as she listed all of the phone calls her daughter made.
According to Cheektowaga Supervising Code Enforcement Officer Thomas Adamczak, the responsibility of securely fixing the hole falls on Koteras' daughter, who owns the home.
"She as property owner is responsible for that well and for maintaining the property safe and free of any hazards. We found out this morning, and we're recommending that she first pump it out as best she can, and then try to locate fill material to fill the well," says Adamczak.
Until someone can help, Koteras will keep boards and bricks over the hole so no one falls in.
"It needs to be filled in, and it needs to be covered up," says Koteras.
Adamczak says the Koteras family can do the repairs themselves. They do not need an engineer to supervise the project. He even says the town may be able to help.
"The town engineer is in charge of a number of projects. He may be able to provide some fill. That really is going to be determined later because he uses ten wheel tandem trucks and to bring that on to a residential property could damage sidewalks or driveways," said Adamczak.
If the Koteras family does not fill the well, Adamczak says the town could issue a citation for a safety violation, and if they refuse to do anything they could take her to court. Adamczak adds buyer beware. Even though the family had no idea the well was there, they take on all of the responsibilities of fixing it since they own the property.
Koteras plans on filling in the hole as soon as possible. And, if anyone offers to help, she says her family will be very thankful.