Youth rescued from cave after getting stuck upside down while spelunking
Saturday, 21 August 2004 - The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY -- A 16-year-old Orem boy who got stuck upside down in a cave while spelunking with friends was in a hospital Saturday after an all-night rescue operation left him too weak to stand on his own.
About 20 Utah County search and rescue volunteers helped free Brock Clark from the Nutty Putty Cave area, where he got stuck about 4 p.m. Friday shortly after entering the long, narrow cave, said Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
Brock was "very, very fatigued and weak" when he finally emerged from the cave around 6 a.m. Saturday, Cannon said. "He couldn't walk by himself."
Brock's mother, Holly Clark, said Saturday that he was wedged in the narrow cave with his left leg behind him, and that his blood circulation was affected all along his left side. Brock will remain in Mountain View Hospital in Payson until he regains his strength, she said.
Clark said her son was having difficulty straightening the leg. "He's doing surprisingly well," she said. Brock is strong, she said, but had been scared during the ordeal. "Who wouldn't be, trapped like that?" she said.
Cannon said Brock was leading a group of about six teens exploring the cave, about seven miles west of U-68 on the west side of Utah Lake.
The youth had gone in head first. When he realized he'd gotten a little off course, he tried to twist his way back out but only wedged himself in tighter.
One of his friends stayed with him while others went to get help. Clark said rescuers were notified about 6 p.m. but it took some time after that for the rescue operation to begin.
Cannon said that Brock "did as much shimmying as he could" as rescuers coached, pushed and pulled him about 400 feet over rocks and through narrow cracks in the cave.
The cave, which has a near-vertical entry before leveling, is popular with spelunkers. Cannon said rescuers get called a couple of times a year to pull people out. "There are some fairly steep and difficult areas," in the cave, he said.
Clark, who said she was an athletic person, would like to go into the cave to see where her boy got stuck. "Groups go in all the time," she said. "I think he just got to a little dead end and didn't realize it."
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page AA6.