A simple pact among friends saved a man after he injured himself during a fall into a 100-foot mine shaft.
John Waddell, 62, had gone 48 hours without food or water when he was pulled early Thursday from a mine shaft on his property in western Arizona, authorities said.
He is a “very, very fortunate individual,” said Roger Yensen, commander of the volunteer Mountain Rescue Posse who extracted him.
Waddell had made a deal with his neighbor, Terry Shrader, before he set off on Sunday: that Shrader would go looking for Waddell if he didn’t return by Tuesday, Shrader told CNN affiliate KNXV.
With his friend still not back home, Shrader set off Wednesday to find him.
“As I pulled out my truck I could hear him hollering, ‘Help, help!'” he told the station.
Shrader quickly alerted police about Waddell, who had broken several bones Monday in his fall, Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said.
Yensen said last week, Waddell erected a metal structure over the top of the hole, called a derrick, so he could lower himself down by rope and explore the 8-10 foot wide shaft.
On Monday, as Waddell was lowering himself down, he lost control and fell roughly 50 feet to the bottom, he told rescuers.
He lay on the rocky bottom with multiple leg fractures for two days, awaiting rescue.
‘Move cautiously and with purpose’
Waddell could be heard yelling at ground level, but officers among the first to arrive at the scene dropped a two-way radio into the shaft to communicate with him more easily.
“He was in good spirits and he was happy to see everybody there,” Yensen said.
The rescuers worked to assemble a hauling system using the derrick and lowered a rescuer down into the dark mine shaft.
One of the biggest concerns was to not let rocks from the edge of the shaft fall on top of Waddell. “We move cautiously and with purpose at the edge of the mine shaft, to not cause anything to fall in,” Yensen said.
“At the very end, when we brought him out of the hole, he just commented how smooth it was and really thanked us for the effort to get him out of the situation.”
After Waddell was raised, he was airlifted to Banner University Hospital to receive emergency care for his non-life-threatening injuries.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said the actions of the posse “saved a life yesterday in a very challenging circumstance that had incredibly dangerous dynamics.”
The mine shaft, near Eagle Eye Road and Mile Post 13, about a 35-minute drive south of Aguila, had fencing around it and is marked, Yensen said.
When it comes to mines, Yensen urged people to “stay out, stay alive.”