HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A little girl trapped after falling 15 feet down a hole in her own family’s backyard was saved by a stranger’s heroic actions in Hackettstown, N.J.

“I feel so happy that I saved her life,” said Luz Jimenez.

Jimenez rescued a 3-year-old girl, who like the fictional character Alice, tumbled into a deep hole. But it was no wonderland for Allison Machigua, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported. She was 15 feet under ground in cold, muddy water, where a septic tank used to be.

“For the baby it was here, it was right close to her mouth. So she was screaming, crying, we couldn’t even see her when we were up there,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez was next door and heard the child’s screams.

While the hole has since been secured with plywood and two tires, at the time of the incident there was only a layer of grass, which gave way under Allison after she wandered into the backyard, Carlin reported.

A police officer arrived just as Jimenez kicked off her shoes and started to go in after the child.

“He was trying to stop me. I said: ‘No, you are not going to stop me. Sorry. Just move away,'” she said.

15-foot hole a toddler fell down and the ladder used to help rescue her in Hackettstown, N.J.  (Credit: CBS 2)

15-foot hole a toddler fell down and the ladder used to help rescue her in Hackettstown, N.J. (Credit: CBS 2)

And down she went. After 15 minutes with the girl in the muck, police sent down a ladder.

“She’s very tiny, you see, so I held with my hand. And my other hand, I tried to step up and get outside,” Jimenez said.

Allison’s mom, Marlen Machigua, told Carlin she thanks God her child escaped without so much as a scratch or bruise. She called Jimenez an angel.

“We know God put her there for us; for our family,” said Machigua.

Decades ago, many septic tank trenches were not filled-in. Instead, some were covered with concrete slabs, which deteriorate over time.

Homeowners are responsible for knowing where old septic tanks are and plumbers can follow the old lines to locate them.

For the foreseeable future, Allison’s family said play time will be indoors.

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