Man jumps in mine shaft; huge team rescues

Jan. 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A Flagstaff-area rescue involving many emergency workers saved the life of a man who jumped down a 100-foot-deep mine shaft, Arizona officials said.

The 28-year-old Union City, Calif., man, who suffered a broken leg and arm and severe hypothermia during the all-night rescue after he hiked illegally to the bottom of the crater Thursday and jumped feet-first down the shaft in Meteor Crater, was hospitalized in stable condition, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

The man said he jumped to "appease the gods," the Coconino County Sheriff's Office said.

The newspaper did not provide the man's name.

Officials said an employee at the privately owned meteor crater site saw the man hiking down the crater, climbing on objects and removing posts. The employee called the sheriff's office Thursday at 4 p.m. local time and then watched through binoculars as the man jumped down the shaft.

"We would have preferred to do this in the daylight, but we didn't think he would survive that long. So, once again, our rescuers put themselves in harm's way to help their fellow man," said sheriff's office representative Gerry Blair.

Involved in the rescue were the Coconino Sheriff's Office rescue team, the Flagstaff Fire Department, a team of more than 30 volunteer and paid workers from a search and rescue team, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies and a technical mine rescue team.

"This rescue took place under the worst conditions," Blair said of the zero-degree wind chill and 70 mph wind gusts.

"Bringing this individual up out of the crater was nothing short of a feat of strength," said Flagstaff Fire Department Capt. Jeff Bierer of the 600-foot trek up the crater once the more-than-200-pound man was lifted out of the mine shaft.

Investigators said they think the man is a semi-truck driver, His 18-wheeler was found in the Meteor Crater parking lot.

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