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1/15/2013 10:52:00 AM
Man jumps down mineshaft at Meteor Crater Park
Rescuers battle freezing temperatures, high winds and rough terrain to save victim
Navajo-Hopi Observer

A multi-agency response team rescued Parminder Singh, 28, of Union City, Calif. from the floor of a vertical mine shaft in the bottom of Meteor Crater Jan. 10.

About 30 rescuers from three different agencies helped rescue Singh for more than eight hours in temperatures of 20 degrees and below, with a wind chill factor below zero.

According to a witness and the victim, Singh voluntarily jumped into a mineshaft and fell a vertical distance of more than 100 feet.

During an interview with deputies, Singh said he intentionally jumped into the shaft in an attempt to "appease the gods."

According to information from the Coconino County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), an employee of Meteor Crater Park called the CCSO around 4 p.m. to report a male subject trespassing at the bottom of the crater in an area closed to the public. While the first CCSO deputy drove to the crater, the employee continued to watch the trespasser through binoculars. When the deputy arrived, the employee told him he had just witnessed the subject jump feet first into a mineshaft.

The deputy immediately requested additional resources including the CCSO Search and Rescue Unit and air support. Access to the mineshaft was difficult, requiring a one-mile hike with a 600-foot drop in elevation to reach the bottom of the crater. A Guardian Medical Transport Helicopter responded and conducted multiple flights as the crew added rescuers.

The opening of the shaft is surrounded by a seven-foot fence topped with several strands of barbed wire. Rescuers cut their way through to the mineshaft. Singh fell a vertical distance of more than 100 feet to the bottom of the shaft after he jumped.

At about 8:22 p.m., rescuers called out to the victim and heard a muffled reply. Rescuers were not able to understand what the victim was attempting to tell them because of wind. They lowered supplies including food, water, a portable radio, warm clothing and a flashlight to the victim.

Once he received the supplies, he was able to communicate with his rescuers via the radio. He informed them that he believed he had dislocated and broken his right arm and broken one of his legs. He also complained of severe pain to both of his legs. He reported frequent episodes of loss of consciousness.

Multi-agency resources and responders included a Guardian Air Medical Helicopter and crew, several CCSO deputies, twelve members of the CCSO Search and Rescue Technical Team, four members of the Flagstaff Fire Department Technical Rescue Team, two Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies, and eight members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Certified Technical Mine Rescue Team.

Rescuers attempted to construct a rope hoist system that would allow them to enter and exit the shaft. The soft material surrounding the shaft made it impossible for them to create anchors for the ropes. An employee of HomeCo brought a T-post insertion tool and posts that allowed rescuers to create an anchor system.

Team members lowered a member of the Flagstaff Fire Department Technical Rescue Team 100 feet to the victim's location. It took an hour to medically assess the victim, provide initial treatment and prepare the victim to be lifted to safety. The victim suffered from severe hypothermia. Rescuers carried him to the 600-foot incline and a distance of more than a mile to the parking lot of the visitor's center. He was transported to the Flagstaff Medical Center where he is listed in stable condition.

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