Rescuers Abandon Man Trapped Alive in Mine
28-year-old seen breathing on video, given last rites
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 5, 2011 11:55 AM CST
From 265,000 to 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.   (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

(Newser) – A priest has given last rites to a man who fell into an abandoned Nevada mine shaft so deep and treacherous that rescuers have abandoned efforts to reach him, officials say. The man was still alive but they said any rescue attempt would pose too great a risk to people trying to descend into the pit. A video camera determined the man was still breathing but had suffered serious head injuries after plunging 190 feet into the shaft on Wednesday in Jersey Valley, northeast of Reno.

Images taken Thursday night revealed he had been moving his hands. "The mine is so unstable that walls were crumbling and rocks were hitting rescuers on the head when they tried to reach him," said a spokeswoman for the US Bureau of Land Management, who added that authorities will keep monitoring the mine shaft until the man stops breathing. "I know some of his family members were out there," she said. The 28-year-old was working in the area with a geothermal drilling crew and visited the shaft with two friends during off-hours. Some 265,000 to 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 because of the danger.
 

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