Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

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

Postby graveleye » Dec 5, 2009 11:13 am

well I guess that's the end of the story for now. It's closed and folks in that area might as well find another cave to go to.
The thing about closing a cave is that it can sometimes put more pressure on surrounding caves.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby David Grimes » Dec 5, 2009 3:17 pm

I really hope that they don't use this one cave as an example for future caves in that area that have several rescues over the years. I agree with the others on this cave, I think the county went along with the closure just to get rid of a nuisance. I do feel for the family, especially the wife and children, I just hope they do not regret their decision to leave the body in the future.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 5, 2009 4:32 pm

graveleye wrote:well I guess that's the end of the story for now. It's closed and folks in that area might as well find another cave to go to.
The thing about closing a cave is that it can sometimes put more pressure on surrounding caves.

I am in full agreement upon that. Nutty Putty is unique in that area in that it was horizontal and extensive and thus could handle the large amount of people that went through it. It was relatively close to population center(s) and pretty much every other cave nearby (read: within 5-10 mile radius) was left pretty much well enough alone by non-cavers. It was mostly in part a sacrificial cave and often used as a first-timer's cave for newer members to the Grotto(s).
There are other caves in the area but they are vertical and require rope skills to negotiate them. It is my concern that folks will try to do these other caves without proper vertical training skills and end up hurt or (again) worse, killed. All other large horizontal caves are within a few hours drive or hikes.
One cave that's actually located in a mine is of major concern for me. It's very small, passage length wise but what worries me is near the back of the mine is a shallow pit of about 15-20 feet deep, with going passage beyond the pit... traversing across the edges is very dangerous as the rock isn't all that stable (it's a mine of course). Right now it's relatively secret/unknown to the general populace but who knows?
I honestly don't think sitting quiet and NOT talking about them is going to reduce the chances of someone finding them.
Two other known caves are on USFS property and are gated yet both gates have experienced break-ins and repairs. I've concerns for those two as well.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Leitmotiv » Dec 5, 2009 11:15 pm

Well, one cave is closed now. Other rescues will occur in other caves. Deaths too. Do we continue to close up each cave when an accident occurs? Or do we learn that we can't control everything to the Nth degree? We can try our best, but people will still die. In the meantime, we lose the rich diversity in life by losing our caves.

Here in my hometown of Bend, Oregon, we have deaths on our river when people decide to "float the river" while inebriated. Does that mean we seal up the river and close it down? Sounds stupid doesn't it? People will die because quite frankly, they don't think ahead and to the possible repercussions of their actions. And because people, quite simply, make mistakes.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 11, 2009 10:23 am

A plethora of info about this accident has been compiled here: http://www.nuttyputtycave.com/NDeath.html. Many of my questions were answered there.
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Re: Utah's Nutty Putty Cave Rescue Follow Up

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 13, 2009 8:43 pm

As many of you may (or may not know John Jones was LDS (Mormon) ... this e-mail was forward to me by my gf who happens to be in the same single's group as Jones' in laws (they're chaperons of sort)in/around Roanoke Virginia. After requesting permission to republish this letter was granted I paste it here (with attached permission to do so) so that the victims family side of the story could be told. It gives a different perspective of what happened and why things were done the way they were as far as the family saw it.
There are some minor errors in the letter... remember this is the information that was passed to the family of Jones' wife. i.e. 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.

This is not a letter meant for arguments, debates or anything else. It's to reflect the views of those who were related to Jones and the information they received. The letter is in full without corrections.
Ralph we couldn't be more grateful to them. You are welcome to post as you see fit.
Regards,
Jeff Petersen

To our dear Singles Ward family,

We want to thank you for your love and support following the death of our son-in-law, John Jones. The power of your prayers has definitely been felt here. We were horrified to hear on Thanksgiving morning that John's caving accident had been fatal, and stunned to consider how life changing it would be for Emily as she becomes the single parent/bread winner. Yet through it all, there has been a peace that all is in the Lord's hands. We have felt that deeply.

We thank you for the heart-warming kindnesses you have shown us. We felt so loved as we returned home and found the leaves cleaned up in our front and back yards, lawn mowed, food in the refrigerator, a crib and toys laid out for Lizzie, and the inside of our house straightened up (it was a mess, having dropped everything to fly to Utah when we learned of John's death). Thank you. We love you too.

We haven't been very quick about answering your emails or posting on facebook. We're including a journal entry here fyi.

Love,
Bishop and Momma Pete

We first got word that John was stuck in a cave Wednesday afternoon, November 25th. John and Emily had flown out to Utah where John’s entire family was gathering for Thanksgiving. John’s brother planned the activity to explore Nutty Putty Cave, inside Blow Hole Hill. Eleven brothers and friends ventured into the limestone hill having obtained the required permit.

The explorers left Salt Lake around 6 PM arriving at the cave after dark Tuesday night. They found the narrow tunnels through the cave made of limestone and obsidian to be highly polished from the water and 6,000 visitors that come to the cave every year. The group hadn’t been there very long before John entered an unmapped section of the cave, about 400 feet in. He had come to a dead end. He was attempting to back out of the tight spot when his hand slipped and he plummeted headfirst with arms extended to catch himself into a five-foot deep narrow tube about 12 inches in diameter at a 70-degree angle. The craw space was 12 inches high so lifting him was difficult. The lip of rock lodged under his ribs acted like a fishhook preventing him from being pulled out. The crevice was so tight that John lacked mobility of his arms and legs. Rescue workers were called. They worked diligently to get him out, but the task was extremely difficult due to his position and the narrow passage they had to work in. Hanging upside down made it very difficult for John to breath. His internal organs pressed down on his lungs and the rock walls restricted deep breathing. Since John’s arms were extended in front of him he could push upward a little to relieve some of the pressure on his lungs from the sides of the cave, but as time passed his arms lost their strength and went numb, as did his legs. The veins in the legs are designed to return blood to the heart. That design worked against him upside down. The temperature in the cave was around 60 degrees, much warmer than outside, but still much lower than his body temperature. Hypothermia began its numbing effect.

John became trapped in the cave around 9 pm Tuesday night. He struggled for release and for life for 27 hours. Rescue workers estimated that an average amount of time for a person to have lasted under those conditions would have been 8 hours.

It was very windy and cold at the top of the mountain where Emily waited with John’s family. Leon Jones, John’s father, at Emily’s request gave John a blessing “remotely” from the back of the ambulance. It was a remarkable experience. Emily said there was a peace and comfort that enveloped them which was nearly tangible.

John was in good spirits and rescue workers were amazed at how he maintained his positive attitude and sense of humor. During the long hours he spoke with rescue workers about his family, Emily and Lizzie, and his mission to Ecuador. Five primary children sang him songs. He grew close to Ryan Shurtz, a rescue worker who had also served a mission to Ecuador and who was with him until he died. John made him speak to him in Spanish. They shared mission experiences, life stories and laughter. John finally said to stop making him laugh because it hurt too much.

Later Wednesday night we received word from Emily that the rescue team had gotten John back from the “L” shaped drop off that held him prisoner for nearly 24 hours. In that position on a still tight but more level shelf, he was given some Gatorade and was revived a bit. He was in very bad shape and went in and out of consciousness. His legs were blue from lack of circulation and oxygenated blood. Rope was tied to his feet holding him on the shelf. The rope was part of a pulley system, anchored to the side of the cave and extending to the mouth of the cave.

John asked to speak to Emily on the 2-way radio. Emily had some tender moments with John, reassuring him, telling him of her love for him, her faith in him and in the Lord, sharing memories and hopes. She didn’t realize at the time that she was receiving the blessing of being able to express what would be her final words to him from the fullness of her heart.

When Emily told him he had to hang on for them, John answered with his characteristic humor, “Don’t worry, a funeral isn’t in the budget right now.”

With some massaging John’s arms began to function again since they had been below the heart. John’s legs were no longer functioning and were without a pulse. John would have lost both legs if they had been able to get him out of the cave. Rescuers would reportedly also have had to break both legs backwards to maneuver him out. Ryan and his father, David Shurtz with 29 years of rescue experience, determined their best and last remaining option was for Ryan to attempt to slide past John then help push him while others pulled on the rope attached to his feet.

Seconds before Ryan began to move into position the rope holding the carabineer to the wall of the cave snapped sending the carabineer into the joint of Ryan’s right eye and nose. He almost bit his tongue off. Blood was shooting everywhere. His face took a pounding on the cave wall. When we spoke with Ryan on Saturday he had a black eye, many stitches in his tongue, and had been eating through a straw. The abrasions and swelling looked like someone had smashed his face into a cave wall.

With the tension off the rope, John helplessly slid back into where he had come from with legs and arms that wouldn’t respond to him anymore, hitting his head in the fall. John repeatedly called out, “Ryan, are you alright? He could tell Ryan was now in trouble and had been seriously hurt. Ryan assured him he would be alright. A few minutes later John slipped into unconsciousness and passed away.

Had Ryan moved into position and been either at John’s side, or behind him to help push, they both would have likely been lost. For Ryan to have decided to take the risk was heroic. Ryan said the time they spent together changed his life. Ryan changed our life as well. He was there giving comfort, aid, and support to the man we all love. Ryan brought back the most precious words a wife, daughter, and family can hear, those of John's undying devotion and love. We will be forever grateful to Ryan for all that he did, and desired to accomplish.

Near the end John knew he wasn’t going to make it. He told Ryan to tell Emily how much he loved her and their family and that he would be there for the birth of their baby. Ryan said of course he would be there, because they would get him out. John insisted, “no, but tell Emily I’ll be there when the baby is born!” We feel certain he will be. Perhaps they are already spending time together.

The peace that enveloped Emily at the time of the blessing from John’s father has continued to stay with her. When Emily was first informed that John had passed, she didn’t believe it since she had felt such peaceful assurance. Shortly thereafter she realized she still felt that peace. She realized that in spite of how chaotic and senseless the ordeal seemed, it was in the hands of our loving father. She has been given the gift of hope and faith and trust that even this trial, which will be completely life changing for her as she is put into the single parent, bread winner role, will work together for their good. She has felt through the Spirit that John has a missionary calling on the other side of the veil, and that she will also be led through the experiences she needs here which will eventually reunite them eternally.

Ryan said at the memorial service in Utah, “I will never be the same. John changed my life.” We are now hearing story after story of others expressing the same sentiments. John was able to reach out and touch people’s lives. There was no fanfare, just a deep love for others and a quickness to see their needs and respond to them. We have been so blessed by the 3 1/2 years he was part of our family. We too feel we will never be the same.

The rescue workers were never able to get John out of the cave. There would have been significant danger for them to continue to try. The Nutty Putty Cave is John’s final resting place. It has been sealed off as his tomb.

John’s family has set up a website where many stories and pictures may be shared. It is not complete yet, but there are already interesting details there. It can be viewed at johnjonesmemorial.com.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


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

Postby Scott McCrea » Dec 13, 2009 9:14 pm

Thanks, Ralph.

Here's the link to the John Jones Memorial website mentioned in the letter: http://www.johnjonesmemorial.com/

fyi, more rescue info is in the forum at the above link.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Dec 14, 2009 12:01 pm

From everything I have read, it sounds like a local Rescue Team attempted this rescue and a real Cave Rescue Team was never allowed in the cave.

Reminds me of an incident here in Tennessee, years ago, when a local climbed down a rope, hand-over-hand, then of course could not climb back up. The local Rescue Team got there first, had the person at the bottom of the pit tie a rope around himself, then proceeded to pull him up the pit. Of course, they got him almost to the top, but the rope running over the rock edge of the pit BROKE, and he fell down and was seriously injured. A Cave Rescue Team arrived soon after, rigged him in a Stokes litter and got him out of the cave.

The local Rescue Team almost killed this man. Sounds like the local Resuce Team in Utah actually did kill that poor guy.

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

Postby shibumi » Dec 14, 2009 12:05 pm

Um, Larry, in the first place, cavers I know, respect, and trained, were there on scene underground. Second, regardless, making a statement like that when you weren't there is the height of insensitivity and rudeness.

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

Postby Evan G » Dec 14, 2009 12:26 pm

shibumi wrote:Um, Larry, in the first place, cavers I know, respect, and trained, were there on scene underground. Second, regardless, making a statement like that when you weren't there is the height of insensitivity and rudeness.

Anmar



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

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Dec 14, 2009 1:09 pm

I knew there was a reason why I had pretty much quit contributing to this Forum. Some people don't think anyone else (but them, of course) are entitled to an opinion.

Well, too bad. It's a free country. At least, until people like you take over. Until then, I'm still free to express my opinion. I did not criticise anyone personally. You did.

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

Postby shibumi » Dec 14, 2009 1:23 pm

Larry E. Matthews wrote:I knew there was a reason why I had pretty much quit contributing to this Forum. Some people don't think anyone else (but them, of course) are entitled to an opinion.

Well, too bad. It's a free country. At least, until people like you take over. Until then, I'm still free to express my opinion. I did not criticise anyone personally. You did.

Larry E. Matthews
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Actually, Larry, I believe very much in the right for everyone to have an opinion and even to express it. But I also believe that when someone expresses their opinion in a way that is deliberately, and in this case ignorantly as well, hurtful to others, that it's also good to let them and the others reading know that I think so. So, yes, I did criticize you personally because I feel that what you wrote was unnecessarily hurtful and demonstrative of quite a bit of ignorance about the topic.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby cavedoc » Dec 14, 2009 1:39 pm

Larry E. Matthews wrote: Sounds like the local Resuce Team in Utah actually did kill that poor guy.

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Ummhh. Were you there? If not, which internet version do you base your freely expressed opinion on? This comment is uncalled for and hurtful on a number of levels. You expressed it freely. Anmar expressed his opinion about it. It's a discussion board. If you make disparaging remarks people are going to call you on it.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby NZcaver » Dec 14, 2009 2:57 pm

Larry E. Matthews wrote:I knew there was a reason why I had pretty much quit contributing to this Forum. Some people don't think anyone else (but them, of course) are entitled to an opinion.

Well, too bad. It's a free country. At least, until people like you take over. Until then, I'm still free to express my opinion. I did not criticise anyone personally. You did.

Larry,

I'm sorry to break this to you, but the replies by Anmar (Shibumi) and Roger (Cavedoc) were both quite appropriate. You ARE welcome to express your opinions here, but like everybody else you also need to take responsibility for your comments. It's common knowledge that rescue-trained cavers were a key part of the rescue in Nutty Putty cave, and one of them even posted earlier in this topic. While you did not directly criticize anybody by name, you did say "sounds like the local Resuce Team in Utah actually did kill that poor guy."

Perhaps you do think the Nutty Putty rescue reports "sound" like that, or maybe you were just trying to provoke a reaction from somebody. Either way, your assumptions are misinformed and insensitive. Please accept that and move on.
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Re: Another rescue in progress at Utah's Nutty Putty Cave

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 14, 2009 3:10 pm

cavedoc wrote:
Larry E. Matthews wrote: Sounds like the local Resuce Team in Utah actually did kill that poor guy.

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Ummhh. Were you there? If not, which internet version do you base your freely expressed opinion on? This comment is uncalled for and hurtful on a number of levels. You expressed it freely. Anmar expressed his opinion about it. It's a discussion board. If you make disparaging remarks people are going to call you on it.

The person that killed Jones was Jones himself. Getting himself into a situation that most of us wiser and experienced cavers wouldn't have. I've gotten into some VERY tight spots but never one where I didn't think I could turn around or get myself back out of should it prove too much even for my skinny frame.
Jones pushed himself 14 feet past a spot where another spelunker gotten themselves stuck and THAT rescue was a tough one. Of course Jones most likely didn't know that but either way if he was as experienced as sources say then he would've known better.
He went too far and beyond his own limits. He should've stopped when he had to strain and push and tried something easier. But he didn't... and the result was fatal.
IMO NONE of the rescue teams, local or cave rescue trained persons should be held accountable for this man's lack of judgment. They did what they could and the clock beat them as a person cannot survive long in that position anyway.
That additional resources from out of state were not called or even put on standby-alert is on the shoulders of the IC. They probably felt with over 100 people on the scene (in and out of the cave) that they had all they needed. There were more than several NCRC trained personnel on the scene (this information I got personally via phone from one of the leaders of the cave rescue team out in Utah... with whom I had trained with previously).
Either way... the fault lies with Jones and his alone.
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