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Labrador retrieved after falling in mine shaft

A hike in the hills above Jacksonville turned into a complex rescue Saturday afternoon when a black Labrador fell into an abandoned mine shaft.

Margie Glatte and her 7-year-old lab, Tele, were hiking on Rich Gulch Trail south of the Britt Gardens when Tele took a tumble down a shaft.

I was down the trail and she was running through the woods, said Glatte, of Medford. I heard a sound and then quiet. It was weird. I didn't know what had happened.

She found her dog crouched at the bottom of a mine shaft about 20 feet deep beside the trail. A rusted turquoise hulk of a truck cab sat jammed in the shaft's mouth. Its rusty seat springs jutted toward the blue sky.

Glatte rushed down the trail to call for help. Jacksonville Fire Department got the call at 2:48 p.m. and responded along with the Applegate Technical Rescue Team from Fire District No. 9.

We train together and go on calls together, said Jacksonville's Capt. Derek Bates.

The Applegate district provided the technical rescue equipment: a metal frame to support pulleys over the open shaft, and yards of colorful nylon ropes and webbing straps. As the team anchored their gear to sturdy trees, Applegate firefighter Cody Goodnough donned a safety harness and prepared to rappel into the pit.

Lowered into the mouth of the shaft, he attached heavy-duty straps to the truck cab. Firefighters on the surface, including Goodnough's dad, Richard, tied the straps to trees to keep the rusty hulk from falling down onto the dog and her rescuer. Then crews hoisted out the truck's seat springs so Goodnough could slip through the cab to the whimpering dog below.

At the bottom, he tucked Tele into a big duffel bag that moments earlier had toted ropes and other rescue gear. Then crews hauled man and dog back to the surface.

Passing hikers and horseback riders who had gathered to watch the rescue applauded as the two emerged about an hour and a half after the dog plunged into the shaft.

Safe on solid ground, Tele burst from the red duffel bag and romped joyfully toward the firefighters manning the ropes as if to thank them. She grabbed sticks from the ground, inviting everyone she saw to play.

You seem all right ' and dirty. You need a bath, Tele's grateful owner told her as the lab, muddy tail wagging, pushed into Glatte's arms.

It went real well, Bates said. It wasn't a life or death thing, so we could try some new techniques and things.

The technical rescue team is called out about 10 times a year for water rescues and rescues requiring rope work, Bates said.

As the crews gathered their ropes, Glatte and Tele headed down the trail. Racing from tree to tree, the lab energetically bounded ahead of her owner, undaunted by her fall.


Cody Goodnough, of the Applegate Technical Rescue Team from Fire District 9, hauls Tele, a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, out of an old 20-foot mine shaft in the Rich Gulch area above Jacksonville Saturday. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven