A late-night adventure to the Old Dale Mining District near Twentynine Palms ended with a 20 hour search and rescue operation this weekend.
San Bernardino County Fire crews were called early Sunday to Golden Crown Road, according to a Facebook post. They were told that a group had entered a mine, and one of the members, an adult male, was unable to get out. While uninjured, he was stuck hundreds of feet in the mine. Officials were alerted to the man in the mine by another man who was able to crawl out.
Inside of the mine were a series of horizontal and vertical shafts that went down about 700 feet. About 40 firefighters from across the county were called to participate in the rescue, which began about five hours after the man initially became stuck and ended 15 hours later, when the man was brought to the surface.
As part of their post, The San Bernardino County Fire Department reminds everyone that:
Mine exploration is considered a dangerous activity by many. In the United States, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has run an annual “Stay Out-Stay Alive” national public safety campaign to warn children about the dangers of exploring and playing on mine property. They claim that since 1999, nearly 150 children and adults have died in recreational accidents at active and abandoned mine and quarry sites, although the majority of these were not related to mine exploration. Abandoned mine sites pose many safety hazards. Many of these structures contain dilapidated frames, open shafts, and water-filled pits. The dangers that are found in the mines include old explosives, hazardous chemicals, bats, snakes, spiders, bobcats, mountain lions and other predators.
Mines are located in every state — from small sand and gravel operations to complex underground coal, salt, limestone or metal mines, to extensive surface operations that use some of the largest industrial equipment ever built. There are about 14,000 active and as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in the nation. As cities and towns spread into the surrounding countryside and more people visit remote locations, the possibility of contact with an active or abandoned mine increases.