Fri, April 03

Man jumps into Meteor crater mine shaft

FLAGSTAFF - Twenty-eight-year-old Parminder Singh of Union City, Calif., was rescued from the floor of a vertical mine shaft in the bottom of Meteor Crater Thursday.

The 8-hour rescue needed 30 crew members from three different agencies. As a storm drove into the area, temperatures plunged to 20 degrees with a wind chill factor below zero. According to a witnesses, Parminder said he jumped into a mine shaft to "appease the gods" and then fell more than 100 feet.

It all started about 4 p.m. Thursday when an employee at Meteor Crater Park called the Coconino Sheriff's Office to report a man was trespassing at the bottom of the crater, which is closed to public access. While the Sheriff's deputies were driving to the crater, the employee at the Visitor's Center watched the trespasser through binoculars.

He told the arriving deputy that he had just seen the man jump feet first into a mine shaft.

The deputy radioed for the Search and Rescue Unit and air support. Reaching the mine shaft is a tough hike of 600 feet from the surface to reach the mine at the bottom of the crater. A Guardian Medical Transport Helicopter conducted multiple flights to insert rescue personnel.

Rescuers had to cut their way through to the mine shaft since it is surrounded by a seven foot tall fence, topped with several strands of barbed wire. They could hear a muffled reply, when they called out to him, showing he was still alive, but they could not understand what was saying.

They lowered down food, water, warm clothing, a flash light and a portable radio so the victim could communicate. He said he thought he had dislocated and broken his right arm, broken a leg and had severe pain in both legs. He also said he had repeatedly lost consciousness.

Rescuers tried to make a rope hoist system to climb down the shaft, but the soft ground around the shaft gave them no place to anchor the ropes. An employee of HomeCo brought a T-post insertion tool and posts so they could create an anchor system in the ground material.

A member of the Flagstaff Fire Technical Rescue Team was lowered the 100 feet to the victim. It took an hour to medically check the victim, provide initial treatment, and prepare him to be lifted to safety. By then, the man was suffering severe hypothermia and had to be carried back up the 600-foot incline and more than a mile to the parking lot of the visitor's center.

High winds and low temperatures prevented flying the victim out of the crater. While deputies were interviewing the man, Mr. Singh said he intentionally jumped into the shaft in an attempt to "appease the gods." He was transported to the Flagstaff Medical Center where he is listed in stable condition.

The rescue required the services of Guardian Medical Helicopter and crew, several Coconino Sheriff's Deputies, 12 members of the Search and Rescue Technical Team, four from Flagstaff Fire Technical Rescue Team Members, two Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies, and eight members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Certified Technical Mine Rescue Team.

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