NC man who fell into well ‘grateful every day’ for firefighters who saved him

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — A month after Channel 9 captured the dramatic rescue of a 67-year old man who fell down a well, the victim is speaking about what happened.

Jack Combs said he still has a lot of pain in his back from the fall, but is very thankful for all the firefighters and first responders who saved his life.

On Jan. 19, firefighters pulled Combs from a well on a farm along Lefevers Road in western Catawba County.

Combs told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty he had been working to shut off a water line when he fell through a piece of tin that was covering the old well that he didn’t know even existed.

“When I landed I just didn’t have my wits about me,” Combs said. “I was wet -- soaking wet.”

Not only had Combs fallen 30 feet down the rocky well, injuring his back, but he was also knee-deep in chilly water. There was no one else on the farm so he began calling out every 90 seconds for the next three and a half hours hoping someone would hear him.

“I had good conversations with God,” Combs said. “I did not make any deals, ‘if you get me out I will’ -- I didn’t think that was appropriate.”

Combs said he didn’t lose hope and believed someone would hear him before temperatures dropped below freezing that night. He said a friend came to check on him because he wasn’t answering his phone and heard him down in the well.

“He said where are you? Walk to the well house I’m down this hole. He was very worried,” Combs said.

Several fire departments from across Catawba County responded to the scene. Firefighters and rescuers set up rigging to pull the 67-year-old out.

Combs said he’s thankful for the first responders who saved him, especially one Hickory firefighter who was lowered down into the well to make that rescue.

“Gentleman came down and he was super helpful, very giving, very caring and he said ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to hook you up make sure you’re very comfortable and pull you up, it won’t be a problem,’” Combs said.

Combs says he’ll never forget the moment he came out of the well and all the firefighters and first responders who saved him.

“What do you have to say to those firefighters?” Faherty asked.

“I’m grateful every day,” Combs said.

Those firefighters undergo extensive training for rescues like this one.

“I was grateful and thankful and certainly relieved that I was going to get out of there, and boy, it was a very good feeling,” Combs said.

Combs says family members and friends have been helping with his recovery. He said a padlock is now on the door leading to that well which will be permanently covered up.

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