Tulsa woman rescued from a storm sewer drain

Wednesday, August 18th 2004, 10:40 am
By: News On 6

Tuesday night, Tulsa firefighters rescued a woman trapped in a storm drain. When they pulled her out she was disoriented and had no idea how or when she had gotten in there.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells went back to the north Tulsa neighborhood to try to find some answers. She was in a storm drain in the 2100 block of North Sheridan and a Tulsa Fire Department rescue team had to get her out.

It wasn't easy; they had to chisel away part of the pre-cast concrete. Tulsa Fire District Chief Eddie Bell: "She apparently crawled quite a ways to get to this location so she could call for help."

And fire officials say when they pulled her out, she was naked. But how did she get in there in the first place.

The News on 6 went back to the neighborhood around North Sheridan and Virgin during the daylight to try and find out.

One of the neighbors says she thinks she confronted the woman in her backyard the other night. Debbie Wilson: "I caught her out behind the shed and it was dark and I said who are you and I thought she said Brittany, but she really said Ricki."

Tulsa Police tell us her real name is Rickisha, or Ricki Tharp, she's 24, and apparently was running from someone and may have been under the influence of some substance. But how did she get into the storm sewer. We asked Debbie Wilson's son Ryan and his friend Richard, if they could help. Of course they lead us down a nearby bank to a creek and there was the drain.

Storm water drains out of the neighborhood into a creek and eventually to Mohawk Park. Kids always know these places. Jodi Denton owns the property and says kids are regulars down there until she chases them off.

Someone could crawl up a pipe. Through of a sewer intersection under the Hamilton Middle School playground and eventually to the storm drain near Virgin and Sheridan. That is where Ricki Tharp called for help Tuesday night.

Ricki Tharp admitted to officers she was under the influence Tuesday night, she just couldn't remember under the influence of what. Some family members took her home.