Many points emerge from this real-life situation. Why had the man strayed from safety? What caused him to fall? Why were the rescue efforts abandoned? How far should we go in reaching those who are lost? At what point is our own danger enough to abandon the rescue attempt?
Man who fell 190ft into Nevada mine shaft dies after rescuers abandon attempts to save him
By Wil Longbottom
Last updated at 9:09 PM on 5th March 2011
A man who was injured after plunging 190 feet into a rural Nevada mine shaft has died – after an attempt to rescue him while he was still alive was called off.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Doran Sanchez says the 28-year-old man, from Battle Mountain, Nevada, was pronounced dead at 12:30pm on Friday by the Pershing County officials.
But federal officials did not release information about the man’s fate until Saturday afternoon.
Authorities say the mine shaft was so treacherous that they abandoned efforts to reach him, even though they had evidence that he was still alive.
Rescuers called off attempts to save a man, who has not yet been identified, after he accidentally fell into part of Murphy’s Mine Complex in Jersey Valley, Nevada, on Wednesday.
Isolated: Rescuers have been forced to call off attempts to reach a man who fell down a 190ft mine shaft in Nevada because it is so unstable (file picture)
A video camera determined the man was still breathing, but there was no movement. A priest had been called to give the last rites.
JoLynn Worley, also from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said: ‘The mine is so unstable that walls were crumbling and rocks were hitting rescuers on the head when they tried to reach him.
‘They’re people who will make every effort to save someone, but they really can’t get to him. It would endanger the lives of rescuers.
‘It appears that due to the hazardous and dangerous conditions of that shaft, the rescue efforts were stopped.’
Remote: Parts of Nevada are littered with abandoned mines and 19th century ghost towns. Authorities warn people to stay away from mine workings, many of which are unstable
The footage showed he had suffered serious head injuries. Images taken on Thursday night revealed he had been moving his hands.
Rescuers from sheriff’s offices in Pershing and Landers counties, as well as teams from the Newmont Mining Corporation, Washoe County and the U.S. Navy have been trying to locate him.
Several descended into the shaft, but were not able to reach the man.
Authorities kept monitoring the shaft until the man stopped breathing, Ms Worley said.
‘I know some of his family members were out there,’ she added.
The man was working in the area with a geothermal drilling crew and had visited the shaft with two friends while off duty.
It is among 10 such openings in the Murphy’s Mine Complex in Pershing County, which was originally worked around 1895 and was last worked in 1945.
Between 265,000 and 310,000 abandoned mine shafts and openings are scattered across Nevada. Federal and state agencies have an ongoing advertising campaign urging the public to stay away from them.
Around 50,000 of them have been identified as the most hazardous, but the shaft where the man fell was not among them, Ms Worley said.
Authorities have been closing shafts that pose the most danger near towns and recreation sites.
She said: ‘People’s curiosity sometimes gets the best of them.
‘These were way out in the middle of nowhere where few people would venture.’