Man rescued after 2 days trapped in gold mine shaft

U.S. & World

A man who was trapped in a gold mine shaft in western Arizona for two days was rescued by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

John Waddell, 62, fell 100 feet down into the mine shaft, about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix, on Monday and was not rescued until Wednesday.

Waddell broke multiple bones and went without food and water for 48 hours. He also fought off rattlesnakes until rescuers were able to reach him.

He was airlifted from the scene to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Despite the surrounding signs, Waddell was alone when he fell into the mine shaft Monday.

“The carabiner broke I guess, and he supposedly fell 40 to 50 feet,” said Terry Shrader, Waddell’s friend and neighbor.  

After the fall, Shrader said Waddell found himself trapped — and with several rattlesnakes around him.

Police initially said a good Samaritan found Waddell in the mineshaft, but it was reportedly Shrader and a pact they made that ultimately saved his life.

“He had called me Monday and told me he was coming to the mine. And we always had a deal, if he is not back by Tuesday,” Shrader said.

When Waddel didn’t return by Tuesday, Shrader said he had a bad feeling.

“Since he didn’t come home yesterday, I was bound determined to come out here today,” Shrader said.

Shrader said his fears were confirmed when he arrived at the mineshaft.

“Just as I pulled out my truck, I could hear him hollering. Help, help,” Shrader said.

He said he drove out of the desert and notified deputies. 

The Mountain rescue team also arrived on the scene.

Rescue crews hooked up hundreds of feet of rope, created a pulley system and worked hours to get Waddell out. 

“I’ve been around a few rescues, but never anything like this,” Shrader said.

Schrader said he does not consider himself a hero.

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