Dead spelunker to be left in cave

There’s a news story today about howa spelunker who got trapped and died will be left in the cave (which will then be sealed up), instead of his body being recovered.

This strikes me as an… unusual course of action. I mean, I can understand (sort of) leaving dead bodies near the top of Mt. Everest because there’s no way to get them down (due to the limited weight climbers can carry and the percentage of that needed for oxygen tanks) but a cave in Southern Utah? Not knowing any more than what the news stories have reported I am reluctant to criticise them, but it still seems like a fairly extreme step to take…

Well, the local officials are saying that it would pose a hazard to the rescuers to try to get the body out. And when you think about it, if they did pull the guy’s body out of this hole in the ground–possibly risking the lives of other people in the process–his family would most likely…put his body in a hole in the ground and seal it up.

I imagine the people involved know what they’re doing, so I’d take their word for it that it would be dangerous to try and recover his corpse. No reason to endanger the living to get a body.

I’m kinda curious about the details though. He died in just 28 hours? Presumably thats not enough time to die of hunger/thirst. And it sounds like the rescue workers found him when he was still alive, but were literally unable to free him. Can you die just from being upside down for 28 hours?

Wouldn’t hypothermia be a problem? If you’re trapped in a cave, pressed up against cold rockfaces for many hours, that would seem to kill you quicker than thirst.

I’d guess they weighed sending living humans down (again) against the possibility of further tragedy.

What’s a better grave for a spelunker than a cave anyway?

Things get wedged…

It mostly stupidity and an emotional overreaction by folks who dont know anything about caving.

Pick just about any human activity. Go where that activity is. You can bet good money somebody has died there at some point. We almost never close those places. Or leave the bodies there.

As for keeping the body there. Its pretty stupid IMO. Yes, there are caves that are SO difficult that it would be nearly impossible to get even a moderately injured person who could help out and wasnt dead weight out. A dead body in that sorta place? Probably only doable in small pieces at a time. There are those types of caves, but they are rare. This isnt one of em.

The rescue crew should have taken a break, maybe changed out the more tired folks, and then been allowed to resume the body recovery. Now, its been there too long probably and will be really nasty. I’d bet good money the cavers in the rescue crew didnt think getting the body out would be impossible. I am nearly certain they don’t even think of this particular cave as even remotely dangerous.

This happens in many, if not most cave rescues. The local sheriff, and firemen, and paramedics get all “we are the professionals”. Yes, they are, and god bless em for the good work they do. Buttttt… like 99 percent of everybody else, they have absolutely no clue of what caving is like, what it takes, whats important, whats not, what works, and what doesnt.

IMO there have been rescues where the “people in charge” have killed folks because they locked out the people that actually know what they are doing.

Fortunately, real cave rescue training is now available, and much of this know how and specialized training is becoming more common place with actual rescue squads formed of cavers and non caving/emt/emergency types at least getting enough exposure to realize they need to call in the right folks.

Yes, it’s not as if people haven’t been getting trapped in caves for hundreds of thousands of years. Skeletons in seldom seen passages are practically a tradition!

Missed edit window. My post was somewhat misleading. In this rescue, real cavers were called in and allowed to do their job. It just appears that once it became a body recovery, all the general public ignorance regarding caves has once again taken precedence over the cavers that actually know about caves and caving.

Yes , in all but the very warmest and driest caves this is a very big issue. If you can breath (in other words your chest isnt compressed), hypothermia is whats most likely going to get you first even with help right next to you (assuming no other major injuries, ie your just stuck).

And yes, being heads down is VERY bad for you. I think in this situation it was something like a 70 degree downward angle.

A related thing bad for you is a vertical rope rescue where someone is stuck. It might not be a tight place, but the rope is tangled, or the climbing gear messed up or the person gets too tired to climb anymore or was hurt by falling rocks while climbing.

So, you got this immobile, but generally okay person hanging by a rope. They have a seat harness. It might take a couple hours to get help or free them or whatever. They are tired and cold, but hey it looks like a warm blanket, some rest, and some hot chicken soup is all they need. They get up and off the rope and sometimes within a short period of time they go into shock and die.

What happens is sitting immoblie in a seat harness for a long periods of time you blood can pool up in your legs (and rear perhaps). This built up or poorly circulating blood gets rather nasty in simple terms. Then, when you are suddenly released from the harness, all this nasty blood goes throughout the body, causing a fatal shock on occasion.

Didn’t Floyd end his days stuck in a cave? What’s he looking like now? Do aves mummify a body?
I don’t get it-this guy got stuk in a passgae too small, and could not get out. Seems like he accepted the risk, and thinks just got out of hand.

I understand the reason why they would leave his body.

But why are they sealing up the cave? Spelunkers die sometimes, it’s a dangerous profession.

As a non-caver, I have to say that the thought of the claustrophobic darkness and constriction is horrifying. CNN reported that he did have difficulty breathing much of the time he was trapped.

What do you all experienced cavers think happened to this guy? Is is possible that he could have slid down into this hole by accident, not realizing how steep the slope was or how tight the space, or did he go in deliberately and just misjudge? If it was deliberate, how does a caver expect to get back out of such a crevasse; can one get enough leverage in that position to push oneself back with one’s arms?

I note the sheriff claim the operations were"too dangerous to continue". Which tells me he doesnt know crap about caving and is just basing the decision on ignorance and emotion.

Unlike you, who has all the details and knows the situation much more intimately, thus you are able to denigrate their efforts and decisions so righteously. :rolleyes:

Its a cave that has 5000 visitors a year. And those probably arent real cavers, those are probably locals with flashlights. How dangerous can it be ?

I’ve read actual posts on the internet by the CAVERS THAT WERE THERE involved in the rescue. NONE of em has described the cave as even remotely dangerous.

I’ve heard about this particular cave for decades. I don’t ever recall anyone describing it as dangerous. Except perhaps the problem that it is an attractive nuisance that attracts people who have no idea of how to cave.

Maybe he was in the dangerous as hell corner of the cave, but I doubt it.

Yes, there is a slim chance I am totally wrong. But not much IMO.

Cave does not equal automatically dangerous.

I think it’s your last statement that shows your argument up. Caving is dangerous, all the time, anytime, for everybody. Just like rock climbing, or BASE jumping, or mountain biking, it’s a dangerous risky pasttime. Just check out the huge CAUTION warning on the Nutty Putty Cave website that starts out

I have no idea why you’ve gotten your panties so twisted by this situation, but the fact that you would even make the statement that “cave does not equal automatically dangerous” tells me that I would likely never go caving with you. It’s that attitude that leads to too many situations like the death in the OP.

Are caves dangerous, in terms of air quality? A few years back, some teenagers died in a cave-due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It turned out that these caves were hangouts for homeless people, who would light fires inside to keep warm. The CO gas built up and settled in the low parts of the caves-and it would up killing a few people who entered the cave.
Do most caves ahve a good circulation of fresh air?

How many hundreds of caves have you visited? How many thousands of hours have your racked up underground ? How many miles of virgin cave have you surveyed or discovered ? How many new caves have you discovered ? How many days have you camped underground ? How many thousands of feet below the surface have you been ? How many miles/travel days have you been from a cave entrance underground ? Whats your NSS number roughly ?

Yes, caves are inherently dangerous if you are retard with a flashlight. So is a river if you cant swim and dont wear a lifejacket , or an airplane if you havent had any flight lessons.

MOST caves are not dangerous in any reasonable version of the definition if you have any idea of what you are doing. There are about 10,000 active “real” cavers in any given year. And god only know how many rednecks with just a flashlight. About 1 a year die, and even then its often a “what the hell were they thinking” situation, not an inherently dangerous cave. And this fatality appears to be one of those cases.

If you can find some descriptions by REAL cavers that this cave is significantly more dangerous than any other random run of the mill piddly cave, post em here and I’ll retract my statements.

As for safety, I’ve read and backordered just about everything the NSS has ever published on safety and accident reports, up to about 8 years ago. So, I’m current on everything from the 60’s ? to the early 2000’s. And I still keep up with things internet wise. Reading about caving accidents, climbing accidents, cave diving accidents, scuba accidents, aviation accidents , and all sorts of random recreational accidents is a “hobbie” of mine. I’ve probably racked up thousands of hours just reading those. And not for some grim voyerism, but because you can see what REALLY causes most accidents…and its not very often that just “shit just happens” is the real reason either.

So, don’t be giving me any shit on lack of safety awareness or lack of knowledge .

Yes, bad air caves are rare. Of course if you burn stuff in any old cave it doesnt help any, and is usually a very bad idea in all but the biggest and most open caves.

I expect most things would be.