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HOT TOPIC: Rescuers leave fallen driller to his fate in old mine shaft

A week ago a 28-year-old driller went unrescued at the bottom of a 60-m shaft at an the abandoned Murphy's mine north of Reno, NV.



A week ago a 28-year-old driller went unrescued at the bottom of a 60-m shaft at an the abandoned Murphy’s mine north of Reno, NV.

Devin Westenskow was a member of a geothermal drilling crew. He reportedly went to the old mine with friends on March 2 to explore. He fell down the shaft, breaking his jaw and shoulders and puncturing a lung.

Rescue crews lowered a camera down the shaft on Thursday and late in the day spotted the injured man lying on a ledge. They continued to watch him until early Friday morning when they reported he was breathing but not moving.

Several rescue workers entered the shaft but were unable to reach the injured man. Officials called off the rescue Friday night, saying the old shaft was too unstable to permit rescue work to continue without risking the health or lives of the rescuers.

Westenskow’s plight has stirred up troubling ethical considerations. Should the rescue attempts have been continued even if it became a recovery operation? Were officials correct to call off the rescues rather than risk injury or death to them in an unstable environment? What else could have been done to ensure a successful outcome?

Those questions will be debated well into the future.

CMJ is asking its readers which option they would have chosen: Should the rescue attempts have continued or were officials justified in calling off the workers?

Please go to www.CanadianMiningJournal.com and scroll down to the Hot Topic button to vote. And if you have a comment on the story, please email daily news editor Marilyn Scales at MScales@CanadianMiningJournal.com.

Previous poll – in February we asked readers whether nor not they expect the merger of the TSX and LSE will be a good thing or a bad thing for Canadian mining companies. The “bad” option was chosen by 46% of voters, and 42% indicated the merger will be a good thing. The remaining 12% said they don’t believe the merger will change anything.


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2 Comments » for HOT TOPIC: Rescuers leave fallen driller to his fate in old mine shaft
  1. John says:

    It is a tragedy that this man cannot be rescued, but the basic and first rule of Mine Rescue is the safety of the rescue team first. No Mine Rescue Team member would like to leave anyone behind but through there training they realize this. They would look for alternative ways but altimately no one else can be hurt in this rescue. My question is how did this worker fall into this area and prevention of any future incidents.

  2. bryce says:

    I think volunteers should have been asked for as they do in the military even though it could be a suicide mission the officials were just covering their ass or is it simply because it is only 1 and not 30 that it was not worth the effort? There should be a hard look at the officials in charge and possible charges laid.

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