FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A California man rescued early Friday from the bottom of a mine shaft in northern Arizona's Meteor Crater reportedly jumped in to "appease the gods," authorities said.
Coconino County sheriff's officials said Parminder Singh told deputies after the eight-hour rescue in freezing temperatures that he intentionally jumped into the shaft, which is 100 feet deep and closed to the public.
Singh, 28, of Union City, was reported to be in fair condition at Flagstaff Medical Center. A hospital spokeswoman said Singh was not in any condition to speak to reporters and she would not disclose what injuries he suffered.
Sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said deputies believe Singh had "a broken arm and a broken leg and some abrasions."
Blair said it was still unclear if Singh came all the way from California just to jump into the vertical mine shaft.
The Arizona Daily Sun reported Friday night that investigators believe Singh is a semi-truck driver because his 18-wheeler was later found in a parking lot near the crater, which is a tourist attraction 35 miles east of Flagstaff and also used as a research laboratory.
Deputies said that during an interview with investigators after the rescue, Singh told them he intentionally jumped into the shaft to "appease the gods."
Blair said Singh didn't elaborate. He said "it remains to be seen" whether Singh would face trespassing or other charges.
Meteor Crater was created by an asteroid about 50,000 years ago. It is nearly 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and about 600 feet deep.
An employee at the privately owned impact site called the sheriff's office about 4 p.m. Thursday to report a man trespassing at the bottom of the crater.
He then told authorities that he watched through binoculars as the man jumped feet first into the mine shaft, which is surrounded by a 7-foot-high fence topped with barbed wire.
It took hours for rescuers to get to the opening of the mine shaft, and they were battling 20-degree temperatures with a wind chill factor below zero.
They called out to Singh about 8:20 p.m. and got a faint reply, indicating he was still alive.
Sheriff's officials said rescuers lowered food, water, warm clothing, a flashlight and a portable radio to Singh so they could communicate with him.
A member of the Flagstaff Fire Department's technical rescue team was lowered into the shaft to provide initial treatment to Singh, who they said had severe hypothermia.
Singh was carried up the 600-foot crater incline and then more than a mile to the visitor center's parking lot before he was transported to a hospital.
More than 30 responders from various agencies around Arizona assisted in the rescue, Blair said.