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 wyandottecaver » Dec 1, 2009 11:05 pm

While I certainly think a moderate statement by the NSS is warranted (see my above post) consider that this is a sleeping dog we dont want to kick too hard.

I will preface by saying I know nothing of the situation beyond the public releases and I havent caved in Utah...yet. Also, full disclosure...I am opposed to cave gates in almost every circumstance except outstanding demonstrated threats to the resource, though the powerpoint presentation on why this cave was gated was very good at explaining the background. Now my point.....

This person had a permit and was in a gated cave. That means someone considered him qualified and that someone gave him a key/combination. Not that they should not have done these things, since the point here was to let people cave and hopefully improve their skills and desire for protecting such resources. But once things went bad is anyone surprised that the response was ".....According to the Deseret News, Michael Leavitt -- who managed access to the cave -- said Monday, "The decision was unilateral to close it. There is no backtracking or retreat."

I assume they mean unanimous instead of unilateral but maybe not......

Legally this is a whole different world than some guy jumping down a open 100 ft shaft and forgetting his rope.... Most Waivers discourage people from filing a lawsuit but are of varying and sometimes dubious value once one starts. Having this cave sealed forever to caving will indeed be a tragedy on many levels. Having a lawsuit that sets a bad legal precedent for gated caves everywhere would be a much much worse one. Frankly I hope losing a mans life and a single major recreational cave are the ONLY tragedies that happen here. To the extent that we can create a non confrontational environment where the values of leaving the cave open are at least on the table or perhaps sealing only a portion of the cave we should. But being too aggressive regarding access to this one cave may not be in the best interests of the NSS or even Utah cavers where the government owns like 80% of the State.

To quote Kenny Rogers "you gotta know when to hold em' and know when to fold em' "
Last edited by wyandottecaver on Dec 1, 2009 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
User avatar
wyandottecaver
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2902
Joined: Aug 24, 2007 8:44 pm
Location: Indiana
  

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

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 1, 2009 11:37 pm

There is a lot of guilt floating around in the Utah Caving community at this tragedy. Mainly by the rescuers themselves and by the ones who fought to keep the cave open when it was slated to be closed months prior to this accident.
The Utah County Sheriff's SAR dept. and Incident Commander was very cooperative in working with the Utah Cave Search & Rescue team and allowed it's members (again, there were several NCRC trained) to do the actual work while the County provided equipment, logistical and moral support to the ones down in the cave. One individual was greviously injured when the anchor failed and the pulley system hit them in the face, they're healing up nicely by the way at this writing.

There will be an official report to be released by the County on this incident.
This is a letter to the Utah Caving community regarding this release of information:

Regarding the rescue effort at Nutty Putty:
I think you all know that Utah County is responsible for any release of information about the incident. I have been getting requests from all over the place, as far as Italy, for information. Therefore, I called our Incident Commander to discuss this. They too are getting numerous requests, from county teams and cave rescue teams.
GRAMA or Government Records Access Management Act, is a set of laws that viciously protect information. The IC understands the great value of the information as a training tool. To avoid any problems, they are planning a couple of things.
First, they plan to have a technical debrief with those involved.
Second, they are going to create a PowerPoint Presentation to disseminate the information in a legal and uniform manner. Their idea is to do a minute by minute recounting of the events and involving all of the actors.
If you were involved, please send me a report of your activities. UCS&R keeps its own records, and I will pass them along to the IC. Here's your chance people. You did the work, now lets document it.
I know that we all like to talk about the incident, but please be careful. This was a Utah County operation. Please let them handle media releases and public information. This is a UCS&R requirement. If you were there because of a request from UCS&R, that applies to you.

Thanks.
Rodney Mulder
Liasion Officer, Utah Cave Search & Rescue

Having that it's a good idea for folks to be patient and wait for the official report to come out.
Anyone stating that they have "first hand information" needs to understand that they do not have ALL the information. If the "information" comes from an actual on the scene rescuer then that rescuer needs to speak with both the UCS&R Liaison Officer and the County Sheriff's IC before passing any information on to someone else. This will prevent misunderstandings, speculations and rumor-mongering by others hearing this (by now 2nd hand) incomplete information.

As to the closure of the cave it's still under discussion. There is even a FB page in relation to this topic.

Thank you.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


http://ralph.rigidtech.com/albums.php
User avatar
Ralph E. Powers
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2101
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 5:48 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN
NSS #: 37616
  

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

Postby Bill Putnam » Dec 2, 2009 2:30 am

From the NCRC Charter at http://www.ncrc.info:

A. The National Cave Rescue Commission (Commission) is located in the Administrative Vice-President's Department and is charged with the following responsibilities:

1. To act as spokesman for the Society regarding cave rescue. (It shall be understood that it is the policy of the Society to maintain a low profile during rescue operations to the extent possible and to avoid bringing awareness of ongoing rescue activities to public notice.)

2. To serve as a technical resource for the Society on matters of cave rescue.

3. To develop and maintain a professional level liaison with federal, state, and local authorities whose resources or mission may affect cave rescue. In addition, to develop and maintain an active liaison with organizations interested in cave rescue.

[...]
Bill Putnam, NSS 21117 RL/FE
Chairman and Chief Troublemaker
The Revolutionary Hodag Party - Thinking outside the cave.

The jackal can roar,
pretending to be a lion.
The lion is not fooled.
User avatar
Bill Putnam
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
NSS #: 21117
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Revolutionary Hodag Party
  

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

Postby maryhelen » Dec 2, 2009 3:02 am

i am more than grateful for all the discussion that is being published in the forum as to what is being written by the various organized goups and members of groups on the government and public side of this issue as well as the discussion of how the nss could improve its role. i hope that those of you you who 'are in the know' will continue to publish outside information and explain the specifics of what is happening, i am a complete tbbula rosa and babe in arms wrt caving and it is important to my understanding of the organizational part of caving and how it intersects with the media and other public/governmental groups to follow this thread as it, hopefully, continues to publish the incident report minute by minute and the presentation that is being prepared etc.etc.

i am not sure that my post makes sense because i am basically writing with very little knowledge of the caving world up close. i hope those of you who are the caving veterans can see thru the cloud of my ignorance and in your knowledge continue to nourish my desire to understand. i am not a serious caver--yet--but i have cared about caves and caving for a very long time for their scientific value, their beauty, and most of all, their existence as places where we can intimately place ourselves on the bosom the mother of us all, planet earth.

maryhelen

ps--what is an 'FB?'
maryhelen
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 27, 2009 11:18 pm
  

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

Postby Bill Putnam » Dec 2, 2009 3:04 am

I should like to make it clear that it is my understanding and belief that the rescuers at Nutty Putty Cave did everything reasonable and possible to save John Jones. Some situations are simply not survivable, and it appears that this was one of those situations. I hate to hear that any of the rescuers or cave managers are feeling guilt for not being able to save John, or for allowing access to the cave. They should not feel responsible for this sad event, as it is not their fault, or anyone's.

Life is full of risks, and every day is a challenge for most of the world's people. Accidents happen, and good people sometimes die, despite all that we may do to try to save them. I am glad that there are dedicated cavers who are willing to drop everything and come to the aid of a fellow caver in trouble. I am also grateful that there are cavers who work to ensure and provide access to caves for those who love to explore them.

Caves have dangers, but so do many of the things we deal with ever day, including cars, swimming pools, elevators, street crossings, weather, and even the food we eat. We fear the dangers we do not understand, even when they are small compared to the dangers we are familiar with and therefore ignore or take for granted. I have never been to Nutty Putty Cave, but I understand that thousands of novice cavers have enjoyed exploring it over decades of visitation. In all that time there have been a handful of rescues and only one death. That does not seem to me to be a very bad record suggesting a particularly dangerous cave, and after serving as editor of American Caving Accidents for 13 years I have more than a passing familiarity with the records and statistics on caving accidents and rescues in North America.

I have been on many cave rescues in my 30 years of caving. I have been injured and rescued myself, and I have rescued others and taught cave rescue to many more. I have seen an injured caver die right before my eyes during a rescue operation, and I have helped recover the bodies of cavers who were killed underground. I have talked and wept with the parents of a fallen caver, and tried to explain it all to people whose broken hearts will never understand how or why their son died. I have been to the memorial services for friends killed in caves. And I have known successes as well - cavers whose lives we saved, or who survived things that by all rights should have killed them. The fact that I am alive today is one of those successes, and for that I am grateful every day to the cavers who saved me.

In all this, I have learned at least one thing - that there are no guarantees in caving, or in life for that matter. None of us are immune from risk, or from accidents. None of us are smart enough, or strong enough, or experienced enough, or skilled enough, or good enough to guarantee that we will never be involved in an accident. Sometimes, they just happen.

Cave safely,
Bill Putnam
Bill Putnam, NSS 21117 RL/FE
Chairman and Chief Troublemaker
The Revolutionary Hodag Party - Thinking outside the cave.

The jackal can roar,
pretending to be a lion.
The lion is not fooled.
User avatar
Bill Putnam
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 5:23 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
NSS #: 21117
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Revolutionary Hodag Party
  

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

Postby Caverdale » Dec 2, 2009 1:21 pm

Here is an update on how Nutty Putty Cave is to be sealed, according to Dave Shurtz, who is one of the contacts with the Utah County Sheriff and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The small constriction that leads to John Jones' body and the small passages that have caused all of the rescue problems will be blasted shut by an experienced blaster. The small constriction at the bottom of the entrance pit will be filled with concrete with boards on the inside to protect the present gate structure. I don't envy the blaster. Word is that the smell at the entrance is already very bad. A few misgivings, though. I've dug though enough breakdown to worry that the blasted area may be dug out by some determined spelunkers when and if the cave is reopened. Also, from the information posted, there are no plans for a pipe at the entrance to maintain the known air circulation. It may not be too late to get this in. However, the whole hill breaths, as can be seen by melting snow in the winter, so there may be air movement in the cave anyway. What is most important is that officials do recognize that they may want to get back inside in the future. That was not sufficiently communicated previously.
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 Scott McCrea » Dec 2, 2009 1:37 pm

Why don't they just blast the passage large enough to get him out?
Scott McCrea
SWAYGO
User avatar
Scott McCrea
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3198
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 3:07 pm
Location: Asheville, NC USA
NSS #: 40839RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Flittermouse Grotto
  

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

Postby Caverdale » Dec 2, 2009 1:47 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Why don't they just blast the passage large enough to get him out?

The blasted area will be 50-100 feet from the body, and one of the purposes is to close off access to all the constricted passages that are causing rescue problems, not just the passage that leads to Jones. Jones is virtually entombed in rock walls. Blasting there would totally destroy the body. When the final reports are issued, hopefully with diagrams and maps, you will understand the hopelessness of attempting to remove the whole body. Wait for the report. "Patience is virtue".
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 Chads93GT » Dec 2, 2009 2:01 pm

Couldn't determined recovery personnel simply microshave/muzzmine their way back? you don't need to use dynamite to move rock to make the passage big enough to easily crawl through. that wouldn't destroy the body. Just my $0.02
User avatar
Chads93GT
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2294
Joined: Jun 24, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Missouri
  

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

Postby caverdan » Dec 2, 2009 2:47 pm

Blasting is bad...... :down:

IMHO Blasting will only weaken the cave and the area will remain diggable. Seriously....thats why you blast....to loosen and remove rock. They need to think cave...not mine. Didn't they try that in Schroder(sp) pants cave with little success? :doh:

The passage is already solid. My recommendation would be to build a back wall out of ply and anchor it well. Drill holes in the wall.........install rebar into the walls to pin the plug in place. Wire in a bunch of rebar..... along with using wire mesh as you pour....The idea is to reinforce the cement plug and make it impossible to remove. Make the plug at least two to three feet thick......maybe more.

(here is one of my methods of finishing off the last 6" or so of cement.......mix in pieces of broken glass.....as people try to chip away at it......it tends to bite back :big grin: :shhh: :shhh: )
caverdan
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 659
Joined: Nov 24, 2006 9:39 pm
Location: Colorado Springs
NSS #: 40262
  

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

Postby Caverdale » Dec 2, 2009 3:08 pm

Chads93GT wrote:Couldn't determined recovery personnel simply microshave/muzzmine their way back? you don't need to use dynamite to move rock to make the passage big enough to easily crawl through. that wouldn't destroy the body. Just my $0.02

You can already crawl back through a small tube to the body and attach ropes to the multiplicity of webbing around the feet. But you can't pull the body out without pulling it in half. Think of a 200 pound body lying prostrate in a hole sloping at about 45 degrees or more, head down. The body virtually fills the entire hole. Think of the enormous friction present. There is more to moving the body than by just lifting 200 pounds. There is no room for the lone rescuer at the body to move except to back out or even to move his arms back down to his side. You have to tow the body over of a slight bend with a small ridge. The stomach is pushed all the way in by the bend and the lower ribcage ribs hang on the ridge at the bend making further movement impossible. You have a multiple pulley system that must exert hundreds of pounds of tension, but nothing gives, and it is absolutely impossible to reach in to elevate that part of the body that is at the bend. There is no room. Repeat, there is no room! You pull until the rock around the anchor point breaks away and the body slides back down. This is the information that was gleaned from the sheriff's department spokesman during several TV interviews and can be revised when the final report is issued. The man is now dead. The stench is terrible. Further action is not feasible. They only had a window of 27 hours before the man gave up the ghost, which was precious little time to get elaborate schemes into play. Conjecture is that the time with his head 4 feet lower than his feet was the cause of death. The rescuers are very knowledgeable about rock removal methods, but had no time.
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 Chads93GT » Dec 2, 2009 3:29 pm

I was more talking about removing rocks that make the tunnel bigger so that he can get out, such as in the bend you said, where its too tight. That is all I meant. This was based on the assumption that they could raise the body up again and get it started down the path to which it could be brought out. I can't even imagine getting as far back into that hole that he went. I guess some caver's are more determined about getting into tight places than others are, but I am definately not one of those people. This is the first incident like this that I can remember hearing about since I became a caver and joined the NSS. HOw long do these reports usually take to come out?
User avatar
Chads93GT
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2294
Joined: Jun 24, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Missouri
  

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

Postby Caverdale » Dec 2, 2009 4:18 pm

Chads93GT wrote:I was more talking about removing rocks that make the tunnel bigger so that he can get out, such as in the bend you said, where its too tight. That is all I meant. This was based on the assumption that they could raise the body up again and get it started down the path to which it could be brought out. I can't even imagine getting as far back into that hole that he went. I guess some caver's are more determined about getting into tight places than others are, but I am definately not one of those people. This is the first incident like this that I can remember hearing about since I became a caver and joined the NSS. HOw long do these reports usually take to come out?

There is no precedent for a report like this. It is the first incident like it to happen for either the Sheriff's department or the Utah Cave Search and Rescue group. The sooner the better.

My understanding is that they had a small air-powered jackhammer all the way in there and did remove rock. I imagine the danger in removing rock in the steep incline where the body is, is rock rolling down and wedging against the body but I wasn't there and don't really know. There is no way you would be able to reach around your tool to prevent it in such a constricted environment. If the body is ever recovered, which is unlikely, it will be only bones.
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 Scott McCrea » Dec 2, 2009 4:26 pm

Thanks for your patience, too, Dale. I realize that all of this is pure speculation, but I think many of us are seeing problems with the info and want to try to make sure they are addressed. And we understand that your influence can only do so much, but you know more than we do.

The problem I see from your explanation is you say that there is no room. That's the description of every dig I have ever been on. As was said in a previous thread, it's a matter of motivation and resources. It seems like the resources are available.

It bothers me that it seems like no one is even going to try again. Of course, maybe they are and we haven't or won't hear about it.
Scott McCrea
SWAYGO
User avatar
Scott McCrea
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3198
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 3:07 pm
Location: Asheville, NC USA
NSS #: 40839RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Flittermouse Grotto
  

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

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 2, 2009 4:41 pm

Chads93GT wrote:I was more talking about removing rocks that make the tunnel bigger so that he can get out, such as in the bend you said, where its too tight. That is all I meant. This was based on the assumption that they could raise the body up again and get it started down the path to which it could be brought out. I can't even imagine getting as far back into that hole that he went. I guess some caver's are more determined about getting into tight places than others are, but I am definitely not one of those people. This is the first incident like this that I can remember hearing about since I became a caver and joined the NSS. HOw long do these reports usually take to come out?

Imagine the passage that Dale described, now add this to it... there is an undercut lip which juts out at roughly 90 degrees. Think of a number 7 now hollow that 7 out and try to lift a body through that... as Dale stated there is no room to do a lot of maneuvering, and again rescuers were barely able to fit through the passage themselves much less try to drill holes for microshaving or any other rock breaking tools that were available. And as Dale said with the body's position there was not much time.
Someone told me that the NSS has a medical officer of sorts... perhaps they can outline the pathology of what happens to a person when their head is down for an extended period of time. There is a lot more going on than just a lot of blood rushing to the brain... there are organs shutting-down (or getting there) because of the inadequate blood flow and so on.
It is highly probable that John Jones knew he was going to die after the first 12 hours, plus his emotional and mental state would've deteriorated with all that blood pressure to his brain.
As gruesome as it all sounds it's just biological facts
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/man-trappe ... id=9184843
"The rib cage is built from the top-down so the lungs expand into the body cavity," said Wright. But when someone is upside down, the lungs "are working against the weight of your liver, of your intestines and the breathing muscles have a difficult time overcoming that."

Another Danger to Being Upside Down: Blood

"The blood vessels in the legs are endowed with fibers which constrict them when we stand upright, but the brain's arteries do not have that capacity," said Dr. Jay N. Cohn, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
n other words, our body is designed to prevent blood from pooling at our feet when we stand up, but it isn't designed to prevent blood from pooling in our head if we are turned upside down.

"Therefore you could get brain swelling and brain hemorrhages," said Cohn.

That pooling of blood can cause a variety of problems before a brain hemorrhage. Wright explained the heart may not be able to get enough blood to the kidneys, causing kidney failure and death.

The pooling blood in the brain may also cause someone to go unconscious, or even go into a coma.

"Deep brain swelling can lead to coma," said Cohn. "If the brain centers that control your heart and your circulation and your breathing are damaged, then of course you lose your ability to breath and your circulation may fail."

So the rescuers were fighting against the clock as Dale said and the clock won.

I appreciate what Bill P had to say on the subject and I'll pull this quote from a discussion group (that I own) of this caver's insight. She hit the nail on the head as far as words of comfort...

To the rescuers

My heart goes out to the family and all who helped in the rescue. The life of a young man was lost as well as a popular cave. When hope turns to tragedy, the recuperating from the blow, physically and mentally can take a while. Please, take time to mourn and time for yourself. Learn from the experience, but do not feel guilty from the "should have"'s. You should feel proud that you answered the call and worked so hard to rescue John Jones. By the reports, the effort allowed him to get messages to his family and he did not die alone. He died knowing people cared for him, and he was loved.


As far as the cave closure... I think that perhaps instead of blasting the area shut that it can be filled with a concrete plug that has a steel tire rim backed by a piece of plywood and reinforced with 1 inch rebar and the concrete can be poured in (by hand via bucket load at a time) and filled to the point of making the plug roughly 3-5 feet thick as the passage has a sort of U bend which would make it difficult for those with hammers and chisels to work their way through... the concrete can be continually reinforced with 1/2 inch rebar put into a mesh type configuration furthering hindering determined folks.
I fear blasting would not harm the cave in the manner previously described but close off an challenging but relatively safe crawl (see map and passage named Aorta Crawl). If they're going to blast where I think they are they're either going to close off the Birth Canal or the passage at the bottom of the Big Slide which leads to the Birth Canal.
That would be very sad.

There are numerous of other tight passages in the maze section ... how long before someone gets stuck in one of those and makes a rescue difficult to do?
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


http://ralph.rigidtech.com/albums.php
User avatar
Ralph E. Powers
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 2101
Joined: Sep 10, 2005 5:48 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN
NSS #: 37616
  

PreviousNext

Return to Cave Rescue Techniques Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users