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Man Rescued From Abandoned Mother Lode Mine

GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) – It was a dangerous mission for firefighters who responded to a call about an elderly man who fell into 30-foot deep mineshaft.

But the danger didn't stop there; his ATV was dangling by barbed wire right above him.

"Just one strand of barbed wire was holding it up," said Captain Christoffer Montelius with the North San Juan Fire Department.

Bunker Hill Mine, about a mile from Highway 49, is in a quite remote area and rescuers first had to locate the mineshaft, then quickly get to the victim – a man they couldn't even see.

His ATV was the first thing firefighters saw when they arrived.

"I think he hit a stump and rolled his quad, and the quad ended up stopping, being held up by a barbed wire," Montelius said.

That barbed wire surrounds the mine so people don't fall in. The wire stopped the quad, not the man.

But rescuers say the victim was lucky the quad didn't fall on top of him

"We couldn't see the patient down there. It was pretty deep," Montelius said.

About 30 feet deep. The technical rescue team from Roseville Fire Department was called in.

"You need a pretty elaborate rope system," Montelius said.

The rescuer was able to use a harnessing system and secured a harness on the victim.

The man, who is aged between 69 and 70, was bruised and bleeding but grateful to be roped up and lifted to safety.

"He was very happy to be out of the hole. It was dark and cold down there," Montelius said.

The victim was airlifted to a nearby hospital and reportedly has moderate injuries.

Authorities say that even though the area is the Mother Lode and there are mineshafts all over, they haven't had a mine rescue in 25 years.

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