Teens leave cave wiser
Pair prayed, talked, joked for 15 hours
Friday, July 30, 1999 12:00 a.m. MDT- By Jeff Call Deseret News staff writer
It sounds like the plot of a Stephen King novel -- two boys stuck in a narrow passage of a dark cave for hours.
Chris Hales and Chris Morrow lived that harrowing experience this week.The Salt Lake City teens, who will be seniors at East High School in the fall, were finally rescued from Nutty Putty Cave, located west of Utah Lake, early Thursday morning after being trapped inside a dark, narrow passageway.
They entered the popular cave with friends Wednesday at about 9 a.m. and decided to explore an area known as the Birth Canal.
"We didn't exactly find it, I guess," Hales said.
Instead, they became stuck in an unfamiliar part of the cave. Morrow was on his stomach, with his head down, for 15 hours and Hale was wedged behind him.
"We hit a dead end and couldn't get back out," Morrow said.
During the time they spent in the cramped space, they tried to keep themselves sane. They did a lot of talking.
"We made fun of ourselves for being in that situation," Morrow said. "We told ourselves we'd get out. We said a prayer. That helped us to keep our cool.
"I'm not claustrophobic at all and I kept telling myself that. I knew if I started to go crazy, it would be harder to get out. We had our moments when we were freaking out a little, wondering if we were going to get out."
They tried to chip away at the rock to free themselves, but movement was limited. The pair of 17-year-olds had a flashlight, but did not use it much in order to preserve batteries. Friends, who were able to send in a little food and water to the youths during the ordeal, called police and about 40 people eventually arrived on the scene to assist in the rescue effort.
Chris Morrow's mother, Susan, didn't find out there was any trouble until late Wednesday afternoon. When she did, she drove to the cave site.
"I remembered the last words he said to me before he left for his trip," she said. "He said, 'This is totally safe, mom.' The police assured us the whole time they were okay."
Rescue workers gently tugged the boys' feet and ankles to remove them from the passage. "We had to wiggle our way out," Morrow said.
Hale was rescued from the cave at 10:30 p.m. and Morrow was freed a couple of hours later. The youths suffered only minor abrasions.
Both boys said they are grateful to all those who helped them.
Morrow said he wants to return to the Nutty Putty Cave someday. "It was a neat place," he said. "Just not where we were."
Susan Morrow is relieved her son is fine and she hopes the experience will be instructive to him. "I think he's learned he won't get into a tight spot again," she said.