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Pennsylvania man survives 500-foot fall into old mine

Sat., April 26, 2008

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A man survived a 500-foot fall into a strip mine Friday, astounding rescuers who spent hours on a risky descent to bring him out.

Police said Nathan Bowman was trespassing on coal company property about 1 a.m. Friday when he slipped and fell into the Springdale Pit, an inactive mine about 700 feet deep, 3,000 feet long and 1,500 feet wide.

He tumbled down a jagged slope and then free-fell several hundred feet, his descent broken by a rock ledge not far from the bottom of the pit, said Coaldale Police Chief Timothy Delaney, who helped direct the rescue effort.

“If you look at that drop, there was no way somebody could survive that,” Delaney said.

Bowman, 23, of Tamaqua, was in serious condition Friday night at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem. The extent and nature of his injuries were not clear, although rescuer John Fowler said it appeared he suffered a number of fractures.

Bowman and a friend were walking around the pit when he went over the side. The friend called 911, and Coaldale police and firefighters began a frantic search, according to Delaney.

Bowman faces charges including defiant trespass.


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