Skip to content
Stay Out! Stay Alive!
Stay Out! Stay Alive!
Near Misses
Incidents that could have resulted in a fatality, but did not.


A Suzuki Samura lies nose first at the bottom of a mine shaft that was 25 to 30 feet deep. The driver did not see the shaft and drove into it on Sunday afternoon.

Two men went for a Sunday morning ride in the Arizona desert, but rather than seeing the landscape, most of their time was spent looking at the bottom of a mine shaft. About 10 miles north of Interstate 8, they drove their Suzuki Samurai over an abandoned mine shaft and fell nose-first 25 to 30 feet to the bottom.

"They were safe and sound one moment, and the next moment they were at the bottom of a mine shaft," said Yuma Fire Department spokesman Mike Erfert.

Imperial County Sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Brewer said the duo was driving up a small grade that appeared to be a mesa. However, in the center was a pit about 10 feet wide. Brewer said the tailings from the mine had formed a "small volcano" around the shaft. Since the vehicle was tilted at an upward angle going up the grade, Brewer said there would have been little or no time for the men to see the shaft before they were in it' and on a head-on collision course with the bottom.

Members of the Yuma Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team responded at 10 a.m. Monday to get the second man, who could not be brought out because of his injuries. A firefighter was lowered to the bottom of the shaft and was able to rescue him.

Neither had suffered life-threatening injuries. A tow truck was called to pull the vehicle out of the hole, Brewer said.

Erfert said there are abandoned mine shafts throughout the area, so people should be careful if they are driving or hiking in areas with which they are not familiar. Fences have been put up around some mine shafts for protection, while others are not fenced.

"They're out there," Erfert said. "And you don't know if it's been there for 10 years or 100 years."

Brewer said it is important for people to be aware of the mine shafts and pay close attention to where they are going. He said driving in this area is similar to driving in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in that people should never drive up and over ridges without first checking what is on the other side.

The two men were extremely lucky to walk away from such a bizarre accident, Brewer said. "We're fortunate this happened during the winter and not the summer," he said. (Source: