As Chopper11 HD flew over the scene Wednesday morning, the woman could be seen stuck near the edge of what looked like a deep hole. The area is used for cooling units at the building.
Rescue workers heard a cry of pain when they found her. She was stuck on a ladder that leads to a maintenance area.
"It was probably a 15-foot hole," Captain Carl Hamlin of the Durham Fire Department told Eyewitness News. " She was located between two ladders sitting on top of a concrete wall."
Captain Hamlin said a newspaper carrier spotted the woman before dawn and called 911.
When rescuers arrived, they found the victim and her leg was stuck.
"One leg was kind of wrapped around, folded in an odd way around one of the ladders," Hamlin explained.
That's why it took a while for crews to free her. The captain said they tried to minimize her discomfort.
"She was alert and conscious, talking to us the whole time," Hamlin said. "She was just ready to get out!"
She was transported to Duke Medical Center.
Someone watching the rescue called the woman Ramona but a housing authority spokesperson told Eyewitness News she does not live at Henderson Towers and the area where she fell is not intended for public access.
"All the safety measures are there," Hamlin said. "They do a good job of keeping track of who goes in and who comes out of the building."
So how did she get stuck a few feet below the edge of the maintenance area?
"There's a rail all the way around it," Hamlin said. "I have no idea how she got where she was at."
Henderson Towers' residents told housing authority officials they've spotted homeless people around the area apparently trying to keep warm by getting close to the big machines on chilly nights.
However, that does not mean the woman who was stuck Wednesday morning is homeless.
A spokesperson for the housing authority told Eyewitness News that signs advising people to stay away from the maintenance area will be posted in order to prevent a repeat of what happened.