Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Discuss training events, techniques, equipment, safety and related issues. Click here to visit the National Cave Rescue Commission webpage.

Moderator: Tim White

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby NZcaver » Aug 13, 2010 4:09 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Welcome to CaveChat, monkey!

You need to gather some more.

:exactly: A LOT more.
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6343
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby monkey » Aug 13, 2010 5:26 pm

Like what?

Thats what happened.
monkey
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 13, 2010 2:22 pm
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby NZcaver » Aug 13, 2010 6:28 pm

Perhaps you'd like to read some of the early replies in this topic, before leaping to the wrong conclusions.

I'll help you out.

Short version:

...the rock holding the haul system crumbled and the entire system came out of the wall and hit Ryan Shurtz (one of the rescuers) in the face.


Longer version:

jaa45993 wrote:Hi everyone. Bonny and I spent all day yesterday at this rescue now turned recovery. As you can tell from the news, it was a frustrating, emotionally taxing ordeal for all involved.

I am not an official spokesperson for the rescue, nor a member of the command team, so my comments should be taken just as the impressions of one of the team members.

I was in the cave for about 12 hours yesterday as part of the effort. There were many ups and downs, a lot of heroic effort, and much determination. I would like to commend the sherriffs, fire teams, and county SAR for working so well with the cavers that were there. Cavers were recognized as vital, integral members of the team. Only small cavers could actually get near John. He got himself into a truly horrible situation, and not even everyone's best effort was enough to free him.

The press coverage has been very accurate, especially considering that they could not see really any of what was going on. I would like to clear up one thing however. Several news outlets have reported that John was "free" and then the rigging failed, sending him back to where he started. This is incorrect. When the redirect popped, John was still several hours from being "free". I estimate he was probably 2 hours of hauling and squeezing from where he would have been able to sit up. The haul systems ran through a twisting passage, requiring pulleyed redirects at each corner, four in all. As far as I can tell, the last one was set up on a natural anchor. It was very near the patient, one bend beyond where I could fit. I believe it was the anchor itself that blew, not the rope or cord as reported. The rescuer was actually hit in the face with two rescue pulleys and two carabiners.

While this setback was definitely the turning point of the rescue, John probably lost about two feet of progress as a result. Rescuers had already moved him a ways up the passage in the 15 or so hours before this. He was still a long way from being free, even without the blowout. Once the rigging was rebuilt with better anchors, by this time John was too exhausted to help us, rendering the setup useless. We were hauling him into a tight spot, with only his feet visible. He was head-down for 24 hours, with no way to turn him, and the clock beat us.

Sympathy and prayers go out to his family.
User avatar
NZcaver
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 6343
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Stridergdm » Aug 15, 2010 10:35 pm

NZcaver wrote:Perhaps you'd like to read some of the early replies in this topic, before leaping to the wrong conclusions.

I'll help you out.


In addition, to answer the question/comment about using a winch to get the body out.

I'm not really sure what you expect to accomplish this way, use more force? Generally more force is far from what you actually need. Generally what you need is just the right amount of force in the right direction. Applying more force in this case most likely only would result in pulling Mr. Jone's body apart. Besides there being laws against the desecration of a body, out of respect for the family, this is something you really don't want to do.

As for your other questions, as NZCaver posted, the situation is far more complex than it may sound initially.

Why not two bolts, or three or four or twenty? Many reasons. Time, space, quality of rock, etc.

Ultimately however, sometimes, the best efforts come to naught.

My usual caveat, I was not there, but I know a few of the people there and I'd trust my life to them and would be very loathe to second guess them and their efforts.

As always I'd recommend anyone who hasn't done so at the very least take an OCR (Orientation to Cave Rescue) class and if possible take the Level 1 weeklong offered by the NCRC.
Cavers rescue cavers!
User avatar
Stridergdm
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Nov 1, 2005 10:08 am
Location: Capital District NY and Northern Virginia
Name: Greg Moore
Primary Grotto Affiliation: RPI Grotto
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Leitmotiv » Aug 18, 2010 3:35 pm

monkey wrote:From what I gather, the death was caused by the BOLT failure.

1.Why did the bolt fail?
2. Why were there not 2 bomber bolts at every directional?
3. Why were 2 pulleys attached to one friggin bolt hanger?
4. How long and what type was the bolt that failed?
5. Why the hell cant you get a dead guy out of the cave? Use a winch at that point!

The kid was out until that bolt failed.
Hence the concrete cap!


The death was caused by a bad decision on John Jone's behalf. Anything directed at the rescue attempt, is missing the point entirely. Just because someone gets themselves into a jiffy, doesn't mean it's always possible to save their life. Know your limits, and learn from other's mistakes.
Leitmotiv
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 164
Joined: May 17, 2006 4:39 pm
Location: Salem, Oregon
Name: Matt Skeels
NSS #: 53428
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Oregon High Desert Grotto
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Caverdale » Aug 18, 2010 10:36 pm

I've been waiting patiently, but in vain, for someone with on-site knowledge to post explanations to clear up several misconceptions of aspects of this rescue. First Lietmotiv's observation that Jones made a bad, fatal decision is right on.

Many people have a misconception that Jones was wedged in the hole. He was not. The sheriff, TV and newspapers reported that and I even posted such early in this thread. However, there was clearance all the way around his body, except for the surface he was lying on of course. This is why the rescuers rejected the frequent suggestion that muzzmining or microshaving would have freed the body. I was surprised to learn later that Ryan S. was able to pass and retrieve a cell phone to John for a last, tearful call to his wife. (Yes, the cell phone did work a hundred feet underground.)

So, why couldn't they get him out of the hole? Remember that John was over 6 feet tall, weighed over 200 pounds, and was head-down in a hole at a 70 degree angle. Friction of the body against rough limestone would have magnified the amount of force required to lift the body by an appreciable amount above 200 pounds. He crawled into that hole from a near-horizontal passage that was probably less that a foot high. You can't just tie a rope around his feet and haul him up while lying horizontally in the passage. A bolt was placed vertically above the hole and a rope around his feet was redirected with a pulley down the horizontal access passage of about 20 feet. I was told that at least 4 other bolt/pulleys had to be used in the passage to keep the rope from rubbing the limestone. There was no room above John to install a come-a-long or similar apparatus to pull him out, as many have suggested. I'm not sure of the next part, but it appears that when John's feet reached the pulley, the rope was retied around his knees to get a lower purchase. It was during this second attempt to lift him higher that the rigging broke and John slipped back down. That essentially ended the rescue because John was no longer able to assist.

Much discussion and criticism has been made at what has been related as failure of the rock where the bolt was installed. I saw the live, real-time, tele-broadcast where the Utah County sheriff went to great pains to explain that no equipment failed; it was the result of the rock crumbling and the whole installation including the bolt came off the wall. This was repeated several times and quoted in the newspapers. If you go back early in the beginning of this thread you will even find that several people quote the newspapers about the rock failure, not an equipment failure. HOWEVER... About 3 months after the "rescue" I attended the regular Salt Lake Grotto meeting and sat across a table from Ryan Shurtz, the rescuer who was with John during the failure and got hit hard in the face with a couple of carabiners. My question to Ryan was to have him describe how the rock crumbled without instantly releasing the bolt. His answer was surprising, "It never happened." He insisted that a piece of webbing broke. At first I was sure we were talking about two different things, but on the third go round, he was most adamant that the failure that dropped John back down the hole was a webbing failure. I couldn't argue because he is the one that got clobbered and should know. He maintained that the bolt is still solidly in the wall and the limestone around it is intact. I'm not going to speculate why the sheriff said what he did.

Why didn't they retrieve the body after John died? Let me describe what some have told me. If the rigging had remained intact they would have pulled the body up to where it would be necessary to change the direction of force from near vertical to near horizontal. Because the feet were against the ceiling and John's long legs put his knees below the bend, it appeared that it would be necessary to break his legs at the knee, bending them forward in what might be called a super hyperextension of the knee. The situation never got to that point because he expired before they were able to pull him back up. As an aside, because the rope had been around his knees for several hours, cutting off all blood flow, the lower part of his legs had essentially died. If he could have been rescued, his lower legs would have to be immediately amputated to prevent the poisonous effects of gangrene. Upon his death, all of the rescuers were physically exhausted. Their mental state was not the best. The announcement was that retrieval would be made the next day, but that didn't happen. I don't know why, but can conjecture that it was realized that even in death, an easy retrieval was not possible. Besides, two days after some "expert blasters" went in to close the passage. All they did was move some of the limestone on the ceiling to the floor, leaving approximately the same crawlspace. The odor of decay was already overwhelming. No one was about to attempt a retrieval. The sheriff made the right decision to cement the entrance shut. During all this time and afterward Ryan got well acquainted with the Jones' family and within a week or so his wife requested of Ryan that the remains be retrieved for a proper grave burial. Present guess that it may take place in about 4 years. Will the cave be reopened after that? Doubtful. The land owners had had enough, and the sheriff rightfully complained about the huge expenses of rescue from this particular cave.

This description is gleaned from conversations with several of those directly involved. If I am wrong, I will gladly stand corrected.
Dale Green
NSS 3669FE
Caverdale
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Sep 4, 2005 10:49 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Name: Dale Green
NSS #: 3669FE, LB
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Salt Lake Grotto
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 19, 2010 3:46 am

Interesting post, Dale. Give my best to Ryan. I only caved with him once a few years ago in the Dominican Republic. That had to have been an emotionally challenging task.
Barbara Anne am Ende

"Weird people are my people."
User avatar
Squirrel Girl
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3168
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:34 am
Location: Albuquerque, NM
NSS #: 15789
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby monkey » Aug 22, 2010 3:08 pm

You should never leave a man behind.
monkey
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 13, 2010 2:22 pm
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby ArCaver » Aug 22, 2010 4:16 pm

monkey wrote:You should never leave a man behind.

I like your attitude. If I'm ever in trouble in a cave I hope you're there to help, but I think you need to step back, re-read the posts on this tragedy and realize that everybody involved did everything within their power to rescue Jones. He made a mistake and paid the price for it. No one should be made to feel as though they fell short in their efforts.
User avatar
ArCaver
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 567
Joined: Jul 31, 2006 12:42 pm
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby monkey » Aug 23, 2010 1:10 am

Im not trying to point fingers here, or offend anybody.

The guy has 2 kids and his body should be recovered at any cost.
Would you like to be left in a damp dark cave forever.
If I could get permission, I would do it by myself.

You cant change the fact that sombody died from their own actions, But when you can safely reach the body then why would you cover the whole damn thing in concrete?

This needs to be fixed!!!
monkey
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 13, 2010 2:22 pm
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby ArCaver » Aug 23, 2010 3:20 am

monkey wrote: Would you like to be left in a damp dark cave forever.

Yes.
User avatar
ArCaver
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 567
Joined: Jul 31, 2006 12:42 pm
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Squirrel Girl » Aug 23, 2010 5:16 am

monkey wrote:Im not trying to point fingers here, or offend anybody.

The guy has 2 kids and his body should be recovered at any cost.
Would you like to be left in a damp dark cave forever.
If I could get permission, I would do it by myself.

You cant change the fact that sombody died from their own actions, But when you can safely reach the body then why would you cover the whole damn thing in concrete?

This needs to be fixed!!!


I'm not offended by what you post. You just have a different opinion than I do. I'm not sure why I understand why it's *so* important to retrieve the corpus of a person who has passed into the hearafter. Some cultures leave their dead out on a mountain top to be scavenged by vultures. Many times, and for centuries, sailor sent their dead to Davy Jones' locker.

I sort of "get" the notion of family members needing "closure." But I'm not sure that I get the need to have a body. As long as the family understands what happens, you can still have a funeral and ceremony. I don't see a whole lot of difference between a closed-casket service with an unseen body versus the same service with an empty casket.
Barbara Anne am Ende

"Weird people are my people."
User avatar
Squirrel Girl
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3168
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:34 am
Location: Albuquerque, NM
NSS #: 15789
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Stridergdm » Aug 23, 2010 10:38 am

monkey wrote:Im not trying to point fingers here, or offend anybody.

The guy has 2 kids and his body should be recovered at any cost.
Would you like to be left in a damp dark cave forever.
If I could get permission, I would do it by myself.

You cant change the fact that sombody died from their own actions, But when you can safely reach the body then why would you cover the whole damn thing in concrete?

This needs to be fixed!!!


I'll be honest, I'm trying to believe you're not simply trolling and as such will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Your comment: "...and his body should be recovered at any cost" is very telling. No, it should not be recovered at any cost. The first rule of a rescue is "make no more patients". This is doubly so for a recovery. I've been involved in a body recovery, of someone that while I wouldn't necessarily call a close friend, I knew well enough and had gone caving with several times (and in fact probably was on his first caving trip.) He drowned on a Monday night. We fortunately were able to retrieve his body by Wednesday evening. We also went home both Monday and Tuesday nights and slept and did nothing for several hours. Why? Because we were not willing to risk our lives for a body. We would move Heaven and Earth (and in this case a lake full of water) but not risk our lives.

In the case of Nutty Putty, you already have the trained rescuers who are physically and emotionally exhausted. Then was not the time to be starting recovery operations. And also there is the interest in keeping others out of there. Both to keep other people from getting stuck (the cave already had a reputation for that) and to keep thrill-seekers and "helpful" people out. It's also at this point a grave. It deserves respect.

This is not to say that the decision is forever. But at the time, it was probably the best decision available.
Cavers rescue cavers!
User avatar
Stridergdm
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Nov 1, 2005 10:08 am
Location: Capital District NY and Northern Virginia
Name: Greg Moore
Primary Grotto Affiliation: RPI Grotto
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Caverdale » Aug 23, 2010 12:55 pm

As tempted as I was to make several comments during the past several days when this thread was being resurrected for the umpteenth time, I held off because I was aware of a news story about to be published. When it appeared last Saturday in the Salt Lake Tribune I was astonished. Over half of the front page and 1 and 2/3 pages in the interior were used for Part 1. Part two on Sunday, yesterday, occupied half of the front page and 1 and 1/2 pages interior. I don't think the end of World War II got more coverage. As promised, the Tribune put the entire story on the web today:
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50073 ... h.html.csp
Everyone is encouraged to read it, especially "monkey". Please note that both John Jones and many of the six rescuers are deeply religious and aware of moral implications of leaving a body to decay in a cave. But, there was no other recourse, given the circumstances. It is a truly sad story. John's wife gave her blessing to the unfortunate necessity of leaving it there and initially wanted the burial to be permanent. Almost immediately she changed her mind, but one rescuer, a retired EMT who is familiar with body recoveries, declines to do this task for another 4 years. I don't blame him.

Already I have heard that a few of those interviewed are a little upset because of how they were quoted and some factual errors as printed. But, it is certainly the most detailed report yet. To my knowledge, several submissions have been made to the Cave Accidents journal, but without the religious aspect (I hope).
Dale Green
NSS 3669FE
Caverdale
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Sep 4, 2005 10:49 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Name: Dale Green
NSS #: 3669FE, LB
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Salt Lake Grotto
  

Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Aug 23, 2010 2:48 pm

I was just about to post the link to the Tribune article, but I see Dale has beaten me to it. It is actually well-written, and very good once you get past Part 1. Those of you interested in the workings of the rescue will find Part 2 much more interesting. Part 1 is mostly about how the accident occurred, and how rescuers comforted John by talking to him. I want to assure everyone that there was a lot more than talking going on down there. Although it didn't come out in the article, everyone they quote as "comforting" John was also working their butt off to pull him out. In the end, I do think that comforting John and allowing him to talk to his wife in his final hours may have been the best thing we accomplished during the rescue effort. Considering the title and focus of Part 1, I feel it necessary to state that not everyone in Utah or on the rescue is a member of the LDS church. In fact, a good portion of the rescuers are not. However it is true that most of the rescuers that were small enough to reach John are LDS. So this is reported accurately in the article. I’m sure their hymns and mission stories did comfort John in his last hours.

I found two factual errors in the article. In one place it states that the haul lines ran through 15 tandem pulleys. This is incorrect. I assume the writer may have added the pulleys that were in the haul systems themselves, although that would not even add up to 15. There were 4 redirects, each with two pulleys. Each line ran to a 3:1 system operated by 4 rescuers each. The article also states that Brandon Kowallis brought in the two-way telecom when he arrived on the evening of the 25th. In fact, the telecom had been in use for several hours by the time Brandon arrived. These are relatively minor errors, and I commend the reporter for taking the time to get the story straight. That is a rare thing these days. Dale is reporting that some in the article were misquoted. I am sure this is true, as I have been misquoted every time that I have been in the newspaper.

I read Dale's synopsis in this forum thread the other day. It is well put-together and I can see Dale has done his research. However, I would like to clear up a few things from his report as well.

1. Dale stated that he was waiting in vain for someone with on-site knowledge to post. I have been mostly holding back due to what I was told by the AHJ. We were not to publish any information until the official report came out. Now it is obvious that there will be no official report. If it is okay for other rescuers to give interviews to a major newspaper, then certainly it is okay for me to share with fellow cavers here. I would like to apologize to the caving community for the lack of information. It is our nature to discuss and learn from accidents. The Utah County Sheriff has prevented us from indulging this part of our nature so far. I am sorry. It is the dearth of information that caused all the wild speculation and continues to feed uninformed questions like the ones that monkey raised. I feel partly responsible for this lack. I was only trying to follow the rules. I was on work time at the rescue, so did not feel the same right to say what I wanted as if I had been a volunteer.

2. I do not think a cell phone was used in the cave. John talked to his wife over the two-way squawk box telecom thing. She may have had a cell phone link to it, but there was no phone in the cave. Two-way radios did work at the haul team site, and that was weird enough, considering we were 150 feet underground.

3. There was no bolt or webbing at the final redirect. No bolt pulled out, no rock crumbled, and no webbing broke. One reason there is so much confusion on this is because only about six people actually made it to this spot. I don’t even know who originally rigged it. Dave Shurtz, who eventually replaced it with a bolt, told me that the original rigging was a short length of 11mm rope tied around a jug handle in the ceiling. It was doubled around the handle. The back of the handle had a sharp edge and actually cut through the rope anchor, sending the pulleys into Ryan’s face.

4. I strongly disagree that cementing the cave shut was the right decision. There were ways to get the body out, and time to implement them. It was a severe blow to the rescuers, not to mention the family, that we were not allowed to recover the body right away. The only thing worse was when they reported the entombment as the “unanimous decision of all involved”. What an insult to my decision making skills and the other rescuers for them to say that. I’ve had to explain that one to fellow cavers over and over for the last 9 months of my life.

Other than these points, I agree with Dale’s synopsis. Thank you Dale, for filling the void of information in the meantime. I have written a full report for ACA. Now that the gag order is effectively lifted, I could post it here or link to it if someone has a website I could upload it to. (it is long)
Last edited by Anonymous_Coward on Aug 23, 2010 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Andy Armstrong
American Carbide Council
User avatar
Anonymous_Coward
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Feb 3, 2006 1:40 pm
Location: Inside the Beehive
NSS #: 45993RL FE
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Paha Sapa Grotto
  

PreviousNext

Return to Cave Rescue Techniques Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron