Arizona man fought rattlesnakes, sucked on his blisters to survive in remote mine shaft

A 60-year-old Arizona man fought snakes and sucked fluid out of his foot blisters to stay alive after being trapped in a remote gold mine.

John Waddell, an avid miner in search of gold, was lowering himself into a 100-foot shaft at Arizona’s Sonoran Desert’s gold mine when he lost his grip and fell the remaining 50 feet.

The plunge left him stuck in the mine, about 90 miles from Phoenix, for nearly three days from Oct. 15.

Waddell, who suffered a broken left leg and ankle from the fall, quickly flew into survival mode.

“When I saw my leg off to the side, I knew I had to set that … and my ankle, get a splint going,” Waddell said. “The rest of it was almost like a fog.”

With no cell phone service, no food or water and only a broken flashlight, the brave man stayed hydrated by popping the blisters on his feet and sucking the liquid that oozed out. He also sucked on moisture from his shirt.

During his time in the abandoned shaft, Waddell killed three diamondback rattlesnakes with a stick.

“I felt the vibration from the rattler on my arm,” Waddell said during a press conference Sunday. “I waited until it was completely under my arm, grabbed it and threw it as hard as I could.”

One of the snakes was about 3 feet long.

“Your survival mode kicks in. It was either me or them,” Waddell said. “It’s a will to live.”

Luckily, Waddell’s friend Terry Schrader knew about his trip to the mine and searched for him.

“I broke down and started crying because I knew that I was going to get out of here,” Waddell recounted when he heard Schrader calling out his name. “I was just so thankful.”

Rescue crews took about three hours to safely lift Waddell from the mine on Oct. 17.

He could have died from internal bleeding, a blood clot, dehydration or shock, according to Dr. Cliff Jones, an orthopedic surgeon at Banner-University Medical Center.

Waddell, who owns the land he was found on, still wants to continue mining when he recovers from his injuries.

Next time, he said, it would be with “someone there and a little better equipment.”

With News Wire Services