L.A. Woman Gets Trapped 20ft Down Trash Chute in Apartment Building

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) crews successfully rescued a woman who had gotten stuck in a concrete trash chute in a four-story apartment building in Koreatown.

LAFD crews responded to a call at 8:12 p.m. on Tuesday evening for a building at 817 S. Hobart Boulevard and found that the woman had fallen about 20 feet down the chute from the roof of the building and was then trapped, according to the LAFD's report.

Urban Search and Rescue along with Heavy Rescue specialists were called in at the scene to evaluate the rescue operations and offer assistance. LAFD requested media helicopters keep away from the building to facilitate communication efforts with the woman.

Rescue crews assessed whether they could best reach the woman from the roof or the basement, or breach the wall of the building. Finally, they decided to use a rope system secured to the roof to attach a harness to the woman and lower her gently to safety, according to the report by LAFD.

The woman, who was conscious and talking for the entire operation but whose condition was unknown as long as she was in the chute, was found to have no signs of any injuries when inspected by firefighter paramedics at the scene after being rescued, according to the LAFD.

The woman has not been identified, but NBC Los Angeles reported that she is 40 years old. It is also not known how she fell into the chute, said the LAFD.

It was another successful rescue for LAFD crews, who on Monday saved a woman and a dog who had fallen into the Los Angeles river and were being swept downstream after a storm.

The woman and the dog were in the water for two hours and multiple attempts were made to rescue them—including the intervention of bystanders—until LAFD crews succeeded.

Trash Chute Accidents and Deaths

Luckily, falling into a trash chute is not at all a common experience, but it has happened to others before the woman in Los Angeles' Koreatown, and without such happy endings.

On December 2, 2010, Phoebe Handsjuk, 24, was found dead in the building where she lived with her boyfriend in Melbourne, Australia, after falling 130 ft down a chute.

According to reports, she had survived the fall, but died later after severe bleeding from multiple injuries. Her death was ruled an accident, despite later investigations suggesting foul play was involved.

On July 10, 2018, a maintenance worker found 48-year-old Lara Prychodko dead at the bottom of the trash chute in her apartment building at the Zeckendorf Towers in New York City. Her death was ruled accidental, but her father maintains that she was murdered.

On November 12, 2021, 19-year-old student Justine Gross was found dead after falling 11 stories down a trash chute in her campus apartment building at Penn State University. Her death was ruled accidental, although Gross' mother was not convinced that it was merely an accident.

Others have survived after falling into trash chutes: in July 2017, NPR reported that a man had been rescued after getting stranded in a trash chute while trying to retrieve his phone in Washington, D.C.

LA Trash Chute accident Koreatown
The building at 817 S. Hobart Boulevard in Koreatown, Los Angeles, can be seen in this screenshot from Google Maps. Google Maps