Escaping peril isn't easy for a real-life Super Mario.
Unlike the video game character who worms his way out of danger through a battery of special powers, escape options were more limited for Mario Sepulveda, one of 33 trapped Chilean miners.
The 40-year-old father of two, who earned the nickname Super Mario after exuberantly celebrating his release from the mine on international television, said he chose to put his rescue in the hands of a higher power.
"I told the men, 'There's no escape. We need to remain in this shelter. God is here with us. Whoever wants to save themselves, take His hand,'" Sepulveda told ABC News in an interview a mere hour after his release.
Sepulveda — the first of the miners to share details of his 69-day ordeal — said he and his colleagues clung to routine as a way of coping with life underground.
Every day at noon, miners would pause to prey as a way of combating the fear and uncertainty that dogged them all, he said.
The ritual of prayer was especially helpful during the first few days, he said, adding the miners often screamed, fought and cried as they struggled to accept what was happening.
"You have everything going through your mind," he said. "You fear, you cry and you suffer. You wonder, 'Is anyone coming to save us or not?' But doubt always was a passing moment, because we had faith."
In spite of his attempts to maintain a semblance of normal life, Sepulveda said he was prepared for the possibility that he may not emerge alive from the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile.
He dismissed fears of canibalism that reportedly haunted some of his fellow miners, focusing instead on being prepared if the end came.
Sepulveda gathered his possessions around him in an effort to die with dignity.
"One night, I gathered all my things, my seat belt, my hard hat, and I thought, 'When I die, I want to die as a miner,' and when they find me, dignified, the world will say, 'A miner died with his head held high."
The Aug. 5 collapse brought the 125-year-old mine's checkered safety record into focus and put Chile's top industry under close scrutiny.
Many believe the collapse occurred because the mine was overworked and violated safety codes.
The families of 27 of the 33 rescued miners have sued its owners for negligence and compensatory damages.