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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » I think this just might be the most heart-breaking I've ever read. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Hilly
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Nevada mine death: Questions on called-off rescue
By MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Martin Griffith, Associated Press –

RENO, Nev. – A father of five plunges deep into an abandoned mine shaft. Nearly 200 feet down, video images show he is injured but still breathing, trapped by debris.

The century-old shaft, though, is extremely unstable, its walls crumbling. As one rescuer tries to descend to reach the man, he is hit by a large rock, which splits his hard-hat. Other efforts yield more falling rocks and clear evidence: This is going to be a dangerous mission — maybe too dangerous.

The scenario unfolded underneath Nevada last week, when rescue teams were told to stand down in their bid to reach 28-year-old Devin Westenskow, even as they had evidence he was still alive.

But the ethical questions are more universal: How do you balance the desire to save a human being in peril with the equally important priority of keeping emergency workers safe and alive to rescue another day?

"You're playing God in a sense," said Rob McGee, secretary-treasurer of the United States Mine Rescue Association.

McGee said he can't recall a mine rescue operation that was halted while someone was still alive. But, he noted, a rescue gone awry compounds such a tragedy, adding another layer of grief. Only officials on the ground can know how best to proceed, he said.

"Whoever made the call in Nevada I'm sure they're hearing it from both ends because there's always someone who's saying, 'No, don't give up,'" McGee said.

Indeed, family members of Westenskow praised rescuers for their efforts and, in a joint statement, said they understood when told early Friday of the decision to call off the rescue effort.

***************************************
Full story at:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110306/ap_o......ying_god
MagicSanta
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It was big on the news here and it is absolutely tragic. They sent a camera down and it seems he saw it so he likely expected rescuers at any time. At least that was his families concern when they spoke with the news. I've never heard of stopping a rescue, they may stop but to announce it while the man is alive is not something that should be done. In Chile didn't they think those men were lost and then locate them after continuing their attempts? Being close to mine country I, as does everyone else, knows the danger they represent but if I was in one either try to save me or send down a shot of something to put me out so I don't have to go through the emotional nightmare. This event was quite a bit East of Reno but Reno is the closest geographical reference.
Bill Hilly
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I agree with you on that Santa.

I can only think of that poor fellow and how long he'll suffer without food or water. My dad said it buntly, but maybe he's right, that he'd be better off if they tossed some dynamite down there so he wouldn't have to suffer.

I know there's tragedy happening all the time somewhere, but this is really getting to me.
MagicSanta
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I said the same thing to my wife. She is still very upset about the entire thing. I'm not sure if it was national news while happening but here it was a play by play situation. If me I'd have wanted them to knock me out or off w/out me expecting it.
Bill Hilly
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I just saw the story at the above link tonight. I don't have TV so I don't know how much coverage it got here in PA. My parents have Dish Network and my dad is a news junkie. They didn't know about it until I told them tonight.
balducci
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I heard about it up here, but then again I read a lot of newspapers. Just in case any one is not aware of this, "Westenskow was given his last rites Friday. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. that day, after the Pershing County coroner's office determined he had stopped breathing by reviewing images from a video camera they had lowered into shaft".

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/na......h06.html
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Matthew W
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http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/05/rescue......da-mine/

Very sad to see that people gave up on another human life so fast.
-Matt
MagicSanta
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I can understand that the shaft was unstable and they didn't want to risk another person but at least make an effort you know? His family was on the news here talking and it was heart breaking. He was a hard working guy out of Wyoming I believe who worked a week on and a week off on an oil rig with five children.
Bill Hilly
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Balducci and Matthew W,

Thanks for posting your links. I was not aware that he already died. The story I posted was published today and it's a little misleading, using phrases like "still alive". Near the end of the story they used past tense but didn't make it clear that he had actually died.

Thanks again.
MagicSanta
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Yeah, he died Friday. They sent a camera down the first time and he made a gesture toward it and then later they saw he was breathing but not moving. He was checked by the coroner through the camera who didn't detect any breathing and declared him dead.
Bill Hilly
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And he fell in Wednesday, correct?

I guess I feel a little better for him that he only suffered 2 days, instead of being still alive. It's still just so very sad.
MagicSanta
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Yes, he fell in Wednesday. He and two friends were exploring the mines when he fell into the shaft. If I recall he had a punctured lung and broken arm or leg. It was on the news here Thursday night that he could not be rescued and that was just shocking. The reason at that time was 'the mine had not been worked since 1945 and no one knows how to work in there', which was weak as an excuse. His family was upset because they felt he was expecting rescuers and the failed to show up. I would think he died of exposure.
Pakar Ilusi
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This is very sad. Smile

Rest in Peace Devin Westenskow.
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
stoneunhinged
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You know, I know this sounds somehow airy-fairy Pollyanna-ish and everything, but I think that we should never call off rescue efforts until the person has died. I know it's dangerous. I know it's expensive. But there is a higher principle at stake, I think.

But it's all over for him now.

Yest, RIP Devin.
Pakar Ilusi
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I think the question and consideration is whether the risking of another person's life is worth it when the effort is deemed impossible.

I have no answer to that btw...
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
stoneunhinged
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But don't firemen do that day in and day out? They risk their lives to save others, constantly. They they said they aren't heroes (which they are, of course) because it's just their job.

And I have such deep admiration for firemen (and firewomen) that it can bring me to tears. I never cried one single tear about 9/11 until I saw a picture of a few dust-covered firement--and then I wept like a baby. Word. It still gets to me. It's not just their job--they are heroes for choosing such a job in the first place.

And should I be deep in a whole, I hope one of those heroes risks his life to come save me.

God bless heroes and firemen.
Pakar Ilusi
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I agree wholeheartedly.

But I'm assuming it's the degree of the evaluated risk.

It gets to a point where it is just fatal for all concerned.

I can only imagine what the guy who has to make that decision must feel.

Still heroes in my book.
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
stoneunhinged
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BTW, I wasn't drunk when I posted. For some strange reason I make fewer typos after I've had a few.

Go figure.
MagicSanta
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Even going through the steps helps if only to reassure the family. It is like when they search for people at sea, they tend to go beyond the normal life expectancy. In this case they knew where he was and just decided they couldn't do anything. Note they were very likely correct but they went about it wrong.
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