A family recreational outing turned deadly over the weekend when two girls on an ATV fell down a 125-foot mine shaft. They were riding along with their father in an area of the Arizona desert in Chloride, about 17 miles North of Kingman. The father was on a dirt-bike riding ahead of the girls. He looked back and noticed they were missing around 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Searchers were unable to locate the girls until about 6:20 A.M. on Sunday, when they tracked the ATV’s tire tracks to the mine shaft. The hole in the ground was unmarked, and it took searchers longer to find it because the opening was covered
in brush. One of the girls responded when her father called out from the top of the hole, so crews repelled into the mine to retrieve them.
The two youngsters were lying at the bottom of the shaft. Thirteen-year-old Rikki Howard had died at the scene. Ten-year-old Casie Hicks was still alive and responsive, but was in critical condition. The brave little girl had spent the night alone in the dark of the cave, next to her dead sister and suffering from serious wounds. It’s hard to imagine a more terrifying scene. Nikki was rushed to University Medical Center in Las Vegas. The two girls were half-sisters, according to a family friend.
The old mine shaft had apparently not been used for quite some time. Laurie Swartzbaugh, deputy director of the Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office, said that abandoned mines are common in the state. Since the beginning of the year her department had secured 108 such mines. She stated that her office is investigating this latest incident.