Caves.com Logo

Stuck!

Article submitted by Shelly Wolf on 10/28/2001

We started Saturday morning off with a good warm breakfast we knew working on the dig down in the cave would wear us down fast and a good meal helps a lot. After the three of us ate, Barry, Joey and myself headed out to Mammoth Cave Park to visit Floyd Collins grave site. He was trapped in a cave in 1927 and lost his life due to a rock that had fallen on his leg. Drove around the park for a bit and headed back to start working the dig.
We started into the cave about 3:00pm. after Barry and I put on our wet suits. I sat up the pulley system and got Joe into a seat harness to work the pulley to pull buckets of mud and rock from the hole 13 feet below. Barry and I climed down the old wooden stairs and down into the hole. At the bottom of the hole there is a seven foot hands and knees crawl about two feet wide and two feet high, at the end of the crawl there is enough room for a small person to stand up straight. Off to the right there is a 90 degree turn to the left and up into a small room 5 foot by 4 foot. I would
start moving the mud and rock from the small room above and Barry would fill buckets of mud and rock from the fractured wall and floor. We had been working about three hours when Barry called for a break. I hated to stop I
had found a ledge on the left hand wall that seemed to go under the wall. Its so hard to stop when you start!  But I knew I was getting tired and I knew Barry was tiring too, and he was right we had worked hard. Its not easy filling buckets in that small crawl and getting them out to pull up the rope. After a couple of minutes giving Barry time to clear the passage under me I started to back down from the little room. As I slid down and looked up I seen a rock about three feet above me that looked like it was ready to fall. I didn't want it to fall on me while I passed under it. I went to pull out the rock that looked like it was sitting on a shelf and it fell! The rock MUCH bigger than it looked from below fell on top of my legs about a 50 pound rock. I yelled for Barry as the fallen rock was pinching my left leg
against the wall. Barry came back in and tried to move it but it was above him and in the small passage and couldn't be moved. He yelled for Joey to go back to the office of the Show Cave and get a jack so we could try and get it up off of my leg. The rock was laying on my leg and on top of Barry's head. It wasn't but a few seconds later and more of the wall fell on top of me. I yelled to Barry to go get help, he was holding the rock from below trying to keep it from putting so much weight on me. But he had to go get more help. The wall had fallen and I had to much rock and mud on me all I
could move was my arms. Barry didn't want to go, he didn't want to leave me in the hole alone. I could hear it in his voice he was as scared as I was. There was no choice he had to go get more help by now just a jack was
useless. I needed a rescue. It was now an entrapment. I could hear Barry running up the wooden stairs and then lost all sound there was nothing. I could feel the rock on my left leg pushing on the wall, my right leg was buried under the rock and had twisted under me when everything fell. It was killing me. But I couldn't move it at all, at least the one pinned to the wall I could move my foot and toes.I have been on rescues before "not mine" and I knew how long it takes to get
help together. It takes a long time. I knew Tracers would be called and some of them are close friends of mine, even though I didn't want them to be called I knew deep down that would be the best thing to do.I could hear someone coming down the stairs from above. It was Barry, I was so happy to see him back. It seemed like I was there for a long time by myself. He came back down into the hole and we talked. I'm not sure what we said though. I remember getting a cramp in my leg and I let out a scream I couldn't move it my God I was starting to hurt all over. From Barry's side of the passage all you could see was my left knee down, if you looked up through some of the rocks on the right hand side of the wall you could see my face. Barry stayed down there and Karen came down to see if there was anything she could do or help me with. I guess Ed came down in the hole too but I don't remember him being there. I'm not sure what happened from time to time, seems my memory slipped a bit down in that cold dark hole. Or maybe the pain was just getting so bad from having all the weight of the rock on me and my leg being pinned on the wall I blocked some things out. I guess I will never know.  I know my right leg had gone to sleep and I didn't feel it anymore at the time that was fine, I needed some kind of a release. I kept asking when someone was coming I was hurting all I wanted was out from under the rock. I couldn't help but wonder if on the other side of this breakdown mess if anyone heard me cry. Barry told me that Chris and Jason my friends from Tracers had arrived. I heard Chris's voice and seen his light through the hole. He looked things over and ask how I was doing. He said more people would be there shortly and together they would acess the situation and see what would be the best way to remove the rock. He tried to take my paulse but I was covered with too much mud and he didnt have very good access to me. I remember him trying to dig out some mud so the rock would move off my leg a bit, but it shifted and put more pressure on me. He tried to keep me calm by singing to me and talking, I guess it worked. I was getting tired my body had stoped shakeing and it would have been so easy to go to sleep I remember that. But I didnt go to sleep and waited what seemed like forever for everyone to get there.
At some point they did. With me passing mud and small rock through the hole on the left, and Tracers and the Fire Dept. moving rock from below after about 4 or 5 hours Chris climed over me and held back a rock that was leaning on my shoulders so they could pull me out from below. After that point I know I walked out of the cave with someone holding me on each side and they took me to the showers to get my core temp back up. The showers was the first time I seen my son and Barry again after what seemd like forever. It was a long night, one I am glad is over and I am glad I had good friends beside me through out it all.                   Shelly

Site created for those who enjoy caves, caving and cave digging. With subjects on speleology, cave digging, vertical work, underwater exploration, rope and climbing techniques and much more.  
Site Designed and maintained by Mark Passerby   
mark@cavediggers.com