Crews rescue injured California man from deep inside Utah cave

Rescue crews from several Utah agencies responded to save a seriously injured Calfornia man after he fell down a shaft hundreds of feet inside the Little Brushcreek Cave system near Vernal on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Photo: Wasatch County SAR

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah, Jan. 9, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A 24-year-old California man was recovering in the hospital Monday after search and rescue crews pulled him from a shaft he had fallen into that was several hundred feet inside a cave near Vernal.

The dramatic 12-hour rescue took place overnight Sunday at Little Brushcreek Cave in north Uintah County.

The 24-year-old man and three of his friends were exploring the cave system when he fell about 50 feet and suffered multiple fractures, according to the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office.

“After he fell, one of his friends navigated his way out of the cave, which took him about an hour, where he called 911 just after 9 p.m.,” the sheriff’s office said.

Initially, Uintah County Sheriff deputies, Uintah County Search and Rescue, Vernal Fire, and Gold Cross responded. 

When it was learned that the man was several hundred feet inside the cave, crews from Wasatch County, Utah County, Salt Lake, and members of the Utah Cavers Association and National Cavers Association were called to assist in the rescue.

Wasatch County SAR reported that the rescue turned out to be very technical because of the depth of the hole the man had fallen into and because a vertical shaft also had to be traversed to reach the accident scene.

Uintah Sheriff’s officials estimated that the young man and his friends were about 500 feet inside the cave system when he fell.

A member of the Vernal Fire Department and a member of Uintah County Search and Rescue were able to reach the injured man during the night and stayed with him,  while efforts were coordinated to get him and his friends out of the caves.

At about 9:50 a.m. Monday, the injured man was rescued. He was airlifted by Classic Lifeguard to the Wasatch Front for treatment of multiple broken bones and trauma, the sheriff’s office said.

Two other people with the party also had to be rescued, but they were not injured.

In a news release, the UCSO described this as “an extraordinary rescue effort,” and expressed thanks to “the many agencies that were involved and contributed, which include the Uintah County Search and Rescue, Wasatch County and Utah County Search and Rescue, Vernal Fire, members of Salt Lake Fire, Gold Cross, Classic Lifeguard, the US Forest Service, the Utah Cavers Association, and the National Cavers Association.”


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