Well drilling is challenging, sometimes interesting, frequently exciting, and occasionally dangerous.

When drilling wells in south Georgia in the summer, many times, I drilled at night by myself because it was cooler, and I wasn’t usually bothered by visitors interrupting my drilling. I had a 12-volt inverter providing power for florescent lights, which was almost like working in daylight. The only problem I had was bugs; they loved the lights.

Earlier, I had drilled a new well for a church that was pumping large amounts of sand, and it wasn’t getting any better. It had not been connected to the church yet, in hopes that it would stop pumping sand.

Not really wanting people watching and asking questions, I went to the job site at about 1:00 a.m. when hopefully not too many people would be coming by. The church was quite isolated in the country with a large yard light near the well.

My intention was to remove the deep-well vertical jet pump sitting on the casing. There was no tank and only a faucet on the pump.

I proceeded to lift the pump by hand, and found that the jet assembly was stuck by the sand. I was pulling as hard as I could when, all of a sudden, the ground around the well gave away, and down I went. As I was falling, I grabbed hold of the well casing. I had fallen so far that I couldn’t see ground level, and didn’t know how far it was to something solid below my feet.

I was thinking I might die right there. I decided that all I could do was let myself slide down until I hit something under my feet. I did, and thankfully, it was only about a foot farther.

Then all I had to do was figure how to get out. It was all loose sand, except for the thin amount of grass and sand at the surface. It took what seemed like hours to finally dig myself out using only my hands.

I filled in around the casing to where I could back up the rig to the pump and casing. I was able to pull the pump and then the casing. I filled the hole back in, then moved over, and drilled a new well and reinstalled the pump. Thank God there were no signs of sand being pumped. Just before daylight, I was done.

After pumping the well for several days to be sure that everything was OK, I returned in the daytime to install the tank and connect to the church. No one was the wiser as to this experience until now.

They say that experience is the best teacher – it is when you live to tell about it.

This is just one reason that no driller should ever work by himself. Some drillers have died or disappeared, and no one ever had a clue as to what happened to them.