A former Shoalhaven man has spoken of his miraculous escape after plunging down an abandoned 15 metre mine shaft with his motorbike while on an endurance ride near Bathurst on Saturday.
Lachie Smith, 24, was taking part in the Yamaha sponsored Sunny Corner Rally, when he attempted to take a shortcut over a hill in the pine forest area on the enduro but instead plunged into an abandoned mine shaft.
“I’m very lucky,” the builder who now works in Sydney said.
It was his first organised ride after breaking a collarbone in May.
“I pretty much thought I was going to die or something serious was going to happen.”
Once he fell into the shaft he was unsure how deep it was going to be.
“It felt like it took forever to reach the bottom,” he said of the 15 metre shaft.
“In reality it was probably only a few seconds.
“I hit the ground okay. Someone was watching over me.”
Footage of the accident and his rescue was captured on a helmet mounted camera by another rider. It has gone viral on youtube, with more than half a million views.
The footage shows Smith coming up the hill, his fellow rider glances left and as he does, Smith just disappears from view.
It is only a few seconds until the rider realised what happened.
They rushed to his aid, surrounding the mine shaft and managed to talk to Lachie, who confirmed he was okay and nothing was broken.
The accident happened just after 9am, 10 kilometres into one of the 70 kilometre ride loops.
“I was just trying to overtake a few riders and saw a few tracks head up the hill and I saw it as a chance to get past a few,” he said.
“By the time I saw the shaft it was too late and I was in it, falling.
“It all felt like slow motion. I had no way of telling how deep the shaft was. Most of the holes up there are about 90 metre, so I was lucky.”
He said after realising he wasn’t seriously injured he started yelling for help so people would know where he was.
“I could hear the bikes going past and I didn’t want to be stuck down there,” he said.
“Thankfully my mate Chris Ryan was riding behind me and and saw everything happen and raised the alarm.
“Everyone started running over and that sent rocks flying down into the mine shaft on top of me.
“I honestly thought it might cave in.”
He described being at the bottom of the shaft, on top of his upturned KTM 300, which was leaking fuel.
“Fuel was everywhere, I thought it might catch alight. It was pretty crazy,” he said.
“I’m just so lucky I’m still here.”
A NSW Ambulance Rescue helicopter, Police Rescue and RFS crews along with a team from the Sunny Corner ride rescued him from his predicament.
“They all did an amazing job and I can’t thank them all enough and the other riders who helped me,” he said.
He was stuck in the shaft for around five and a half hours before eventually seeing the surface again shortly after 2pm.
“Physically, I’m in pretty good shape, just a bit sore all over,” he said.
“I keep thinking about what might have happened.”
He didn’t even go to hospital, checked over on site by the paramedics and given the all clear.
“I don’t usually ride with all the gear on but I spent couple of grand recently on knee braces and body armour and that saved me,” he said.
“I suppose my message is make sure you’ve got all the gear and don’t skimp on safety.”
He also issued a warning about being careful where to ride locally, especially around the Yalwal area, a popular haunt for riders, but also a spot riddled with mine shafts from gold mining operations.
Emergency crews managed to recover Lachie’s beloved two-stroke KTM and amazingly after about 20 seconds of tinkering it roared back to life.
“That was pretty incredible. The bike was upside down for five hours and although it is pretty damaged it started. They make good bikes KTM.”
He followed suggestions to buy a lottery ticket and even managed to win $20 on the scratchies.
“My luck hasn’t run out yet,” he joked.
“People are saying I have nine lives.”
Despite being a keen rider, he said he didn’t know how long it would be before he “gets back on the bike”.