Dubuque urging explorers to say away from old mine shaft

Published: Oct. 18, 2016 at 5:29 PM CDT
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Dubuque is urging explorers to stay away from a dangerous old mine shaft near the city's dog park. That's after firefighters had to rescue an injured woman who was trapped inside for several hours.

The fall happened inside a mine shaft off below Bunker Hill Golf Course early Saturday morning.

Police say Madeleine Fiksdal, 23, was injured and remains in the hospital.Trespassing charges are pending against her.

Police arrested Dallas Blake, 28, of Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is also facing a trespassing charge.

Underneath the rolling landscape of Bunker Hill Golf Course, sits a piece of Dubuque's mining history.

"There's a lot of old shafts there that are very dangerous," said Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware.

Police say Ficksdal and Blake climbed down a storm sewer along North Grandview Avenue.

Fire crews say that sewer opens up into a huge mine shaft. Inside the mine rescue crews later discovered a make-shift ladder.

"It was something possibly made out of a TV antenna or something like that, that had been set up and carried into the space over time," said Fire Chief Rick Steines.

They say while climbing the ladder, Ficksdal fell 40 feet down and suffered serious injuries. Blake called for help.

"We were told that they were told they were a quarter mile up in that space," said Steines.

Without access to cell phones or radio, police and fire crews wadded through knee deep water searching for Ficksdal. When rescue crews finally found her, they placed her on a back board. Fire fighters above ground used a tri-pod to pull her out through a nearby man-hole.

It was a rescue effort some city leaders say could have been avoided.

"Other people had to put themselves in harm's way in order to be able to rescue someone from that space," said Ware.