Man who fell into Aguila mine "in good condition"

AGUILA, Ariz. (AP/KSAZ) -- A hospital spokeswoman says a man who fell into an old abandoned mine shaft near Aguila is in good condition.

Alexis Kramer-Ainza of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix says John Waddell will undergo an operation later Thursday.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office earlier reported Waddell's Wednesday rescue from the 100-foot (30-meter) shaft in the town of Aguila, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) northwest of Phoenix. According to MCSO officials, Waddell was found by a friend.

"The gentleman reported that he knew that if he didn't show up by Tuesday, he was going to go out and check on him," said Roger Yensen with the MCSO Mountain Rescue Possee. "On Wednesday, he heard his friend calling from the bottom of the shaft."

Sheriff's officials say the man fell into the shaft Monday and was found two days later by someone who heard his calls for help. They say a medic was lowered in to treat the man before lifting him out of the shaft on a metal gurney.

It's unclear how the man fell into the shaft. Waddell, who is from Wickenburg, had a mining claim on the property, and had recently begun to explore what was inside.

Meanwhile, a good friend of Waddell is speaking out about the man.

"I talked to him this morning," said Mike Balowski. "I told him I was going to kick his rear end when he gets better for not being there with somebody."

Balowski said Waddell is an experienced miner, and has been exploring old mines in Arizona for decades.

"He's a Vietnam-era veteran, and he's tough," said Balowski.

Waddell, who is from Wickenburg, had a mining claim on the property, and had recently begun to explore what was inside.

"John is a miner by trade," said Balowski. "He looks for precious metals and stuff like that, and he's had this claim for quite a while."

Balowski said he's gone with Waddell into other mines in the past.

"I've been back in the mines sometimes," said Balowski. "You find artifacts sometimes. You find precious metals or sometimes, you find beautiful rocks. Sometimes, you find old stuff left behind from the 20s or 30s."

Balowski believes the mine Waddell was trapped in was built in the 1930s, but he does not believe Waddell accidentally fell into it. He said Waddell is too experienced to have fallen from the top.

"Best I can say a rope broke. That would be my best guess," said Balowski. "This is just an unfortunate mishap for him."

As for reports that Waddell killed three rattlesnakes in the mind, Balowski said he believes Waddell killed the snakes, because he was hungry.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report