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Man Describes Rescue From Abandoned Utah County Mine Shaft

EUREKA, Utah – It was just an afternoon’s adventure into the picturesque mountains south of Eureka, but it turned into a four-hour ordeal in an abandoned mine shaft that required a technical rescue.

Izick Garcia said he and his friend, Moroni Oliveira, wanted to explore somewhere out of their “element” and discovered the mine just off of Burristan Pass Road.

“Once we got in, there was about 120 feet of just flat and there was a little mound, and after that, there was about a 25-to-30-foot drop,” Garcia said. “We were like, ‘should we go down there?’”

Izick Garcia and Moroni Oliveira. (KSL-TV)

Garcia said he is an adept rock climber and it appeared there were rocks he could climb after exploring the space.

After he went to the bottom and decided to leave, Garcia said he began to grip the rocks and they crumbled in his hands.

Suddenly, it appeared there was no way to climb out of the mine shaft.

“The only light that was visible was above us,” Garcia said. “I think they said it was like a 107-foot drop — and so it was just straight up. Just a giant hole in the ground that led to where I was.”

Oliveira’s attempt to pull his friend out with a rope didn’t work.

“And then it was starting to get dark soon and I was like, alright, last option, we’ve got to call,” Oliveira said.

Oliveira had phone service and was able to call for help.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said deputies, search and rescue team members and the Eureka Fire Department arrived at the area near the Utah-Juab county line and mounted a technical rescue.

Garcia said it took a couple of hours to get him above ground and rescuers at the end told him he was lucky.

“I knew I wasn’t necessarily going to die because if they can’t get me out through that hole, they’re just going to get me out through the big one,” Garcia said. “They pulled me up and off we went.”

After the four-hour ordeal, Garcia said he and Oliveira won’t necessarily be deterred from exploring, but they will be more prepared in the future.

“(We) definitely will probably go get a little more training on rappelling and descending — you know, just to be safe,” Garcia said. “(It’s) better to be safe than sorry.”

Both men encouraged others to be ready for the adventures they choose.

“Don’t go in there unless you know what you’re doing,” Garcia said. “I would definitely caution people if they’re doing stuff like that, for sure.”

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