Firefighter explains mine shaft rescue

GOLDEN, Colo. -- The firefighter who rescued a teenager from Golden out of a mine shaft earlier this month detailed the assignment.

For a number of reasons, lead rescuer Mike Brouillette, who has been on the job for more than 20 years, said this assignment was the most treacherous rescue he's ever completed.

When a teenage boy fell down a  mineshaft, a high-angle rope rescue was started.

“These boys got a little too ambitious, went into the mine shaft and fell through,” said Brouillette, who is with West Metro Fire Rescue.

Crews from Golden, West Metro and Alpine rescues were called in to assist in the rescue.

“This was by far, probably the most treacherous call I’ve been on, and it's because of the variables that we didn’t know,” Brouillette said. “Unknown air quality, darkness, temperature variances, potentially toxic air.”

The only way to get the boy out safely was to send someone down. With decades of experience, Brouillette, was lowered into the shaft. Crews used ropes and harnesses to help save him.

Once inside the shaft, Brouillette had to navigate unfamiliar terrain. Crews didn't know how stable the ground was.

“If you imagine driving through a hailstorm, and you hear the hailstones hitting your car, that’s pretty much what happened to me the whole time," Brouillette said.

Crews didn't know how far the teenager fell. All they did was follow his voice.

“We were both stuck in that mine shaft,” Brouillette said. “I had to get right next to him to be able to tie an improvised harness.”

After two hours, the 15-year-old was on solid ground with a leg injury.

“He realized that he escaped one, his guardian angel was looking over his shoulder that particular day," Brouillette said.

Shortly after the rescue, the teenager and his family thanked all the firefighters who responded to the call.