PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The man who fell about 50 feet in an abandoned mine shaft in western Arizona spoke on Sunday about what happened and how he killed three snakes.

"I don't like killing them but it was either me or them," said John Waddell. "If I would have gotten bit while I was down there I wouldn't be here now."

He said rigged everything correctly when he went down the mine shaft south of Aguila, about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix, on Oct. 15 when the rigging broke when he was about 50 feet down.


Waddell used a stick to make a splint while in the mine shaft.

"I tried to slow down with my hands by gripping the rope as tight as I could," Waddell said, explaining he had only one glove on. "These burns came right through the glove. It was going so fast."

[ORIGINAL STORY: Man rescued after falling 40-50 feet in western Arizona mine shaft]


Burns on Waddell's hands.


Burns on Waddell's hands.

He fell about 50 feet to the bottom of the shaft, which he said was damp.

"As soon as I hit it I saw my leg flip up and my ankle went the other way," Waddell said.

Waddell said he made a makeshift splint with a stick on his left leg.

Killing the rattlesnakes

He said when he leaned back he saw a rattlesnake coming down the shaft so he took the stick and beat it to death.

Waddell didn't even see the next rattlesnake.


Waddell has been recovering at the hospital 

"As I was leaning over to the side, I could feel something underneath my arm. This was the second rattlesnake," he said. "I could feel the vibration from his tail on my arm."


Makeshift splint.

He then reached down, grabbed the snake and threw it as hard as he could. He then started beating it with the stick.

Waddell saw the third snake on Wednesday before he was rescued and strangled that one.

Help arrives

Before the trip, he told his friend if he didn't hear from him by Tuesday, Oct. 16, the day after he fell in the shaft, to look for him. However, the friend didn't come until Wednesday, Oct. 17.

"On the third day I thought I was going to die," said Waddell.

His friend showed up around 1 p.m. on Wednesday and called 911.

"I'm so grateful he showed up because I'm here today," said Waddell.

[READ MORE: MCSO talks about rescuing man trapped in shaft for days]

It took Maricopa County Sheriff's Office rescue crews more than six hours to get Waddell out of the shaft.

Waddell's daughter thanked the rescue team on Sunday.

"I know it took time, patience and skill so for that I'm very thankful," said Jennifer Fouche.


Waddell's daughter briefly spoke as well.

She lives in Prescott and rushed down to the hospital when she heard what happened.

"It was probably the longest one-and-a-half hour drive of my life," said Fouche.

Waddell has been recovering at the hospital ever since.

"He's a lucky guy that he didn't bleed to death or that his fracture wasn't his thigh bone," said Dr. Cliff Jones, an orthopedic surgeon at Banner. "He's come along very well."

"I am just so thankful," said Waddell. "It was quite a ride."

The 60-year-old spoke to the media at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix Campus. He wore a shirt and pants but had a cast around his left leg.


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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