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Cave diver's body still stuck upside down in rock after desperate 24-hour rescue

Joe Harker

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| Last updated 

Cave diver's body still stuck upside down in rock after desperate 24-hour rescue

The body of a cave diver is still trapped upside down more than a decade after he died following an unsuccessful rescue attempt.

On 24 November, 2009, John Edward Jones entered the Nutty Putty cave in Utah with friends and family as part of an expedition.

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Intending to go cave diving in the Nutty Putty, the group soon split into two as children and some adults went to explore in a less dangerous part of the cave, while some of the more experienced adults chose to delve further into the depths of the cave.

The cave already had a dangerous reputation, with four separate incidents where a rescue attempt was required occurring in the Nutty Putty, which had only been reopened to the public six months before John and his family entered it.

John was exploring with his brother Josh when he decided to look for a narrow tunnel which spelunkers had dubbed the 'birth canal', but with some of the cave still unmapped he found the wrong entrance.

Squeezing into such a tight spot that he was having to crawl along using his fingers and hips, John was not able to turn around and barely had any room to properly breathe.

A diagram showing how rescuers attempted to extract John from the cave. Credit: Reddit
A diagram showing how rescuers attempted to extract John from the cave. Credit: Reddit

Trying to make his way through a gap which was 10 inches by 18 inches, John had to breathe in to have any chance of being able to continue moving, but when he breathed out again he became stuck.

Calling to Josh for help, his brother tried to pull him out by the legs but he slipped further into the cave and became stuck upside down, with his hands wedged and unable to help.

Josh instead had to travel back up through 400ft of cave to call for help, with the first rescuer arriving at around 12:30am on 25 November, with John having been stuck in the Nutty Putty for over three hours by now.

The first rescuer to arrive was Susie Motola, and when she reached the part of the cave where John had become trapped all she could see of him was his shoes.

Over the next 24 hours over 100 people joined the rescue efforts in attempting to free John, with the cramped nature of the cave making it incredibly difficult to get rescuers to his location.

John and his wife Emily, who was pregnant at the time of his death. Credit: Jones Family Handout
John and his wife Emily, who was pregnant at the time of his death. Credit: Jones Family Handout

In the end a plan to pull John out using ropes and pulleys was launched and it initially seemed to be working, but tragedy struck when one of the pulleys broke and John fell back to where he was first trapped.

Rescuers then tried to use power tools to chip away at some of the rock formation the 26-year-old was stuck in, but then another tragedy struck.

Stuck upside down and struggling to breathe, huge pressure and stress was being placed on John's body and he became unresponsive shortly before midnight on 25 November.

A doctor was eventually able to reach him and pronounce the cave diver dead of a cardiac arrest and suffocation.

In the end it was decided that it would be too dangerous to try and recover John's body, so part of the cave the 26-year-old had become stuck in was collapsed with explosives and the Nutty Putty entrance sealed up with concrete.

It means that since his death in 2009, John's body has been stuck upside down in the part of the cave he first became trapped in.

John's widow Emily has sadly been the target of abuse after remarrying several years on from his death, defending herself by saying it had 'never been hard to talk about John' to her new husband.

Featured Image Credit: Jones Family Handout

Topics: News, World News

Joe Harker
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