Woman trapped 10 hours under collapsed awning freed by Schiller Park firefighters

SCHILLER PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A woman was rescued after spending 10 hours trapped under an awning that collapsed under heavy snow in suburban Schiller Park.

Firefighters worked quickly Monday night to try to prop up the backyard awning hours after it collapsed onto a woman in her 50's. She had gone out to shovel snow when the awning suddenly gave way under the weight of several feet of snow and ice.

"She was trying to call for help, but being her head was inside of the awning, nobody was able to hear her," said Chief Michael Cesaretti, Schiller Park Fire Department.

Monday was Cesaretti's first day on the job as chief of the Schiller Park Fire Department. Firefighters demonstrated the struts and the inflatable bag they used to help lift the awning to free the woman. They said she remained conscious the entire time and was able to talk to firefighters who entered the house and went to the back door.

"Most of the snow was on top of the awning, and it did create a bit of a void space under the awning so she was able to still communicate," Cesaretti said.

But because she was in the backyard and surrounded by snow and ice, she was unable to get anyone's attention until a family member arrived and called for help about 10:30 p.m.

"The crews - working with our police department - removed as much snow as nice as they can. We had our truck company use our stabilizers to stop it from collapsing anymore," Cesaretti said.

Paramedics transported the woman to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in stable condition.

Firefighters said the heavy snow and ice is causing awnings and roofs to collapse around the Chicago area. They hope this incident will serve as a reminder of the danger.

"There may be no warning signs, so we're just asking people to be aware, what's over your head," Cesaretti said.

The warmer temperatures on Monday likely saved the woman from injuries related to being out in the cold for so long. Firefighters said if this had happened last week, the outcome could have been much more serious.
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