Teens rescued from abandoned missile silo then one arrested

The Deer Trail silo is one of six decommissioned Titan 1 ballistic missile sites in the state, all of which were shuttered in 1965

Graig Graziosi
Monday 06 May 2024 19:04 BST
See inside the abandoned missile silo where a teen fell 30 feet while exploring

A teenager in Colorado was critically injured after they fell 30 feet into an abandoned missile silo, according to police.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said the 18-year-old tumbled into the underground silo near Deer Trail — approximately 45 minutes east of Denver — at around 3.30am on Sunday morning.

He and his friends were reportedly trying to gain access to the site by crawling through a broken grate at the silo's entrance, according to a statement by the sheriff’s office.

The 18-year-old spent approximately five hours trapped in the silo. Two of his friends stayed with him throughout the night until rescuers arrived. He was removed from the silo around 8.30am, and just before 9am was transported to a hospital by Airlife Denver with "serious injuries," Fox 31 reports.

The teen is expected to survive.

Rescuers had a difficult time communicating with the trapped teens due to poor reception at the site and from within the silo, according to the sheriff's office.

The entrance to an abandoned Titan 1 missile silo near Deer Trail, Colorado, where an 18-year-old fell 30 feet and sustained serious injuries on 5 May, 2024. The teen was rescued by firefighters from nearby communities
The entrance to an abandoned Titan 1 missile silo near Deer Trail, Colorado, where an 18-year-old fell 30 feet and sustained serious injuries on 5 May, 2024. The teen was rescued by firefighters from nearby communities (Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office)

Responding police found three teens — the injured 18-year-old included — inside the silo, and another five above ground. The group was made up of boys and girls. Only two of the boys were 18. One was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and the injured teen may also face charges. The rest of the teens were juveniles, according to the sheriff's office.

All of the teens involved attend Cherry Creek High School in the Denver metro area, according to police.

The silo has reportedly been abandoned since the 1960s and was described by rescuers as one of the most dangerous rescues they had ever conducted, according to Fox31 Denver.

Rescuers said the silo was a "mess" of "twisted metal, collapsed floors" and "concrete pieces everywhere."

One of the rescuers told the broadcaster the teen was "lucky to be alive".

Colorado has six abandoned Titan missile silos across the state, according to 9 News. All of the sites were built to house Titan 1 missiles, which were among the first intercontinental ballistic missiles developed by the US. Each of the missiles was designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

The sites were decommissioned and the missiles were removed from inside in 1965.

The Deer Trail silo is currently under private ownership. The owner, Jerry Linnebur, told 9 News that he posted numerous warning signs that the silo was dangerous and for people to stay out, but said he still frequently sees signs of trespassing.

"You can see there's been a lot of people down here," Mr Linnebur told 9 News at the time. "When you're a kid, you don't think of [the risks]. It's all fun and games to them."

The entrance to the silo has been covered in graffiti, including what appears to be a message saying "Welcome to Paradise."

Reporters from 9 News visited the silo seven years ago. At that time, the owner said he planned to cover the entrance because the site had become too dangerous. He erected a grate over the silo's mouth, but it was later broken, allowing would-be explorers access to the site.

"It's been a pain. We have people coming in here,” Mr Linnebur said at the time. “Because of the liability that's involved in this and keeping people out, it's a pester to the people that live close by, so we're gonna seal it up to where nobody can get into it."

Ginger Delgado, the Arapaho County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, told The Independent that because the land is privately owned, re-sealing the entrance to the silo will be Mr Linnebur’s decision, not the county’s.

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