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    Arizona authorities work to rescue local who fell down 100-foot-deep mine shaft

    Amateur Prospector Falls Down US Mine Shaft, Spends Days Fighting Off Snakes

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    John Waddell, a 62-year-old amateur prospector from Arizona, was lowering himself into a mine shaft in Maricopa County last week when he suddenly lost his grip and fell some 100 feet. It would be days before an emergency response team would be able to return him to safety.

    Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office held a news conference on Thursday to shed some light on the incident. According to Roger Yensen, the operations commander of the office's Mountain Rescue Posse, Waddell landed at the bottom of the mine shaft after he "lost the ability to control the friction on the descent down the rope" last Monday, October 15.

    From that moment on, Waddell battled thirst, hunger and even three rattlesnakes he encountered in the shaft, which is located on land he owns. Though Waddell did have his cell phone with him, he wasn't able to get a signal.

    Waddell was ultimately discovered on Wednesday by his friend Terry Schrader. "As I pulled out my truck, I could hear him hollering, ‘Help, help!'" Schrader later told local Phoenix news station Fox 10.

    Emergency responders work to rescue amatuer prospector John Waddell from mine shaft
    Emergency responders work to rescue amatuer prospector John Waddell from mine shaft

    Due to the lack of cell phone coverage in the area, Schrader had to drive a few miles down the road before he was able to get a signal strong enough to reach authorities.

    Schrader had previously been asked by Waddell to check on him on Tuesday if he hadn't heard from him. However, Schrader failed to show up on the specified day due to an illness, instead making his way to the shaft on Wednesday.

    Yensen's team was directed to the scene at roughly 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday. Waddell was removed from the shaft shortly after 7 p.m. local time, according to the Arizona Republic.

    "He is a very fortunate individual," Yensen said of Waddell.

    Maricopa County's Sheriff Paul Penzone credited the rescue mission to Yensen's 15-member team at the news conference, saying, "Ultimately the actions of the folks standing here with me, and many others who are not present, saved a life yesterday in a very challenging circumstance that had incredibly dangerous dynamics."

    Mike Balowski, a friend of Waddell, told BuzzFeed News in an article published Saturday that Waddell had previously accompanied him at other mine shafts in Aguila to search for "old artifacts, semiprecious stones, some precious metals."

    "John is a tough SOB," said Balowski.

    Waddell, who was airlifted from the scene, is currently recovering from his non-life-threatening injuries, which include several broken bones, at the Banner University Medical Center Phoenix. Alexis Kramer-Ainza, spokesperson for the medical center, told AP that Waddell would be undergoing surgery for two broken legs.

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