John Waddell, 60, spent more than 48 hours in an abandoned mine shaft in western Arizona before he was rescued, but that doesn’t mean he’ll never go back.
Speaking in a press conference Sunday, Waddell described some of the horrors he encountered and gave a surprising answer when he was asked, “Will you ever go back?”
“You never know,” Waddell said. “This time, with someone there and a little better equipment, I just might. That’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years. I think it’s in your blood.”
Waddell said he suspected there might be gold at the bottom of the mine and “it intrigued me.”
He explained he had been trying to explore the mine shaft just south of Aguila earlier this month when, despite having all the ropes and rigging correctly, he fell down about 50 feet into the well.
Waddell burned his hands gripping on the walls on the way down as he was trying to break his fall and broke his leg once he hit the bottom.
“These burns came right through the glove. It was going so fast,” he said. “As soon as I hit [the bottom], I saw my leg flip up and my ankle went the other way.”
At the bottom of the mine, Waddell realized he wasn’t alone. Three rattlesnakes surprised him over the course of the next 48 hours, and he beat and killed each one.
"I don't like killing them, but it was either me or them," he said. “If I would have gotten bit while I was down there I wouldn't be here now."
He had paid a visit to his friend Terry Shrader before descending into the mine, and let Shrader know if he doesn’t hear from him in two days to send help.
“I didn't come down on Tuesday but I did today [Wednesday] ‘cause he didn't get back,” Shrader said, according to KPHO. “I was afraid what I would find.”
In the meantime, Waddell said he never lost hope.
“You’ve always got to have a little sliver of hope that you’re going to get out,” he explained. “I was scared. But the hope was there and a lot of prayers, and thank God because it could have been a lot worse.”
He said he was saving his energy until he heard Shrader’s diesel truck pull up to the mine.
“I started yelling and yelling and yelling, ‘Help, help.’ Finally, I heard someone say, ‘John, are you OK?’” Waddell said. “Thank God, because it was at that point you don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’m grateful he showed up and I’m here today. Because if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.”