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Crews rescue teenager who fell 30 feet down an abandoned missile silo

The owner of the property where the missile silo sits says he plans to press charges.
Emergency crews load a seriously injured teenager onto a medical helicopter
Posted at 10:49 AM, May 06, 2024

Crews rescued a teenager who was seriously injured after falling 30 feet down an abandoned missile silo in Colorado Sunday morning.

Crews said he is expected to survive.

The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. near Deer Trail in Arapahoe County, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said a group of eight teenagers gained access to the entrance of the silo, and one of them fell through a two-story shaft and down the underground complex, landing on twisted metal, broken concrete and stagnant water at the bottom.

The sheriff’s office said rescue teams entered the silo hours after arriving on scene. They had to navigate an extremely hazardous underground maze before they were able to locate the 18-year-old victim.

The teen was freed from the silo just before 9 a.m. and airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries.

Crews were able to rescue the victim’s friends — a juvenile male and an 18-year-old male — who were inside the tunnels with him. They appeared to be unharmed. Five juveniles were contacted above ground, two boys and three girls.

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Crews who freed the teen held a press conference after the rescue. They said this was one of the most difficult rescues they have worked on and underscored the dangers of these operations.

“It is twisted metal, it is collapsed bores, it is concrete pieces everywhere. It's a confined space. There's stagnant water. It's just a mix of collapse and confined space and vertical triangle,” Sable Altura Fire Chief Rich Solomon said.

Rescuers had no map of the silo and lost communication with responders for at least half an hour. They said they relied on lights and the teen’s screams to navigate what they called a “maze of tunnels.”

“Typically you have one type of rescue. You have confined space rescue or you have a high angle rescue, but this was all of them,” Solomon said.

Watch the full press conference in the player below:

Crews provide update on missile silo rescue efforts

Crews from Sable Altura Fire Rescue, South Metro Fire and other agencies were on scene assisting in the rescue efforts.

There are six former Titan I missile complexes in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Titan I was a 98-foot-long, two-stage missile and was designed to carry nuclear warheads.

The Colorado Titan missile sites were decommissioned and the missiles removed in 1965. They have been sitting abandoned for more than 50 years.

The silo where the teen fell, labeled One (2B), is on private property and is fenced off with a gate that appears to have been damaged. Men were seen repairing the gate that has a "no trespassing" sign attached to it.


The property owner told Scripps News Denver that he intends to press charges, which he said he has done in the past. His father bought the property sometime after the silo was decommissioned in the 1960s. He said it's been "a headache" to own ever since.

The other abandoned silos in Colorado are on the former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range east of Aurora, where four silos are located. The sixth one is located south of Elizabeth.

The CDPHE said it has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate and clean the complexes, some of which have elevated levels of PCBs.

This story was originally published by Robert Garrison at Scripps News Denver.