Caving accident in Missouri, December 29 2006

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Caving accident in Missouri, December 29 2006

Postby Bill Putnam » Dec 30, 2006 10:13 am

This is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It is the 29th recorded caving accident for 2006.

The article is available at

There are a number of details needed for the accident report, including the name of the cave. If someone familiar with the incident, the cave, or the area could contact me I would appreciate it.

Bill Putnam

Explorer found dead at bottom of cave
By Christine Byers

ANTONIA — An innocent curiosity about a nearby cave, hidden in the woods of Jefferson County, led to the death of a 45-year-old father of two Friday.

Dave Wiegand, of the 6300 block of Old Lemay Ferry Road in the Imperial area, was found dead at the bottom of an approximately 100-foot cave, according to Deputy Chief Glenn Nivens of the Antonia Fire Protection District.

The cave was hidden on a wooded bluff behind an old industrial plant along Highway M.

His wife, Anna, accompanied him on his trek to the cave earlier Friday afternoon and grew worried when she could no longer hear him, said Larry Cole, Wiegand's friend and neighbor of 20 years.

She went for help, leaving the cave to get to her car. Then she drove to Cole's house, he said.

"Dave's stuck in a hole," she told him before calling 911 around 3 p.m.

Cole, his girlfriend, Pam, and their roommate, Don Durand, then returned to the site with Anna, Durand said.

"We do this kind of stuff all the time," Durand said of the many expeditions the friends and neighbors have shared searching for arrowheads and other artifacts in a nearby 30-foot cave.

The group had heard about the deep cave before but never could find it, Cole said.

Wiegand stumbled upon it Thursday, Durand said.

"He came over last night saying how proud he was that he found it," Durand said.

When the group arrived at the cave's opening, Durand said, they found four fence posts and rusty barbed wire blocking the triangular-shaped entrance, which was about the size of a manhole.

Wiegand's rope was tied to one of the fence posts, his backpack and flashlight were nearby, Cole said, adding that Wiegand responded to him when he called.

Emergency vehicles from the Jefferson County sheriff's office and several nearby fire districts gathered at the foot of the bluff Friday. "He told me he was fine, and I told him the Fire Department was on their way and that he had to come up," Cole said.

"Then I never heard from him again."

Nevin said firefighters learned from a previous rescue that the cave has a ledge about 75 feet below its opening and another drop-off of about 30 feet.

Cole said he feared his friend may have fallen from the ledge after they spoke, unable to navigate his way in the dark.

By 4 p.m., rescuers reached Wiegand, Nevin said.

They asked Cole and Durand to leave the scene, and the men said his wife was close behind as they traveled down the bluff.

But halfway down, she turned back, Cole said.

A police officer gave Anna Wiegand a ride back to the home she had left just hours earlier with her husband for an afternoon of exploring.

"I really feel for Anna," Cole said. "I know she had a daughter who died a while back and they have two boys. And now this."
Bill Putnam, NSS 21117 RL/FE
Chairman and Chief Troublemaker
The Revolutionary Hodag Party - Thinking outside the cave.

The jackal can roar,
pretending to be a lion.
The lion is not fooled.
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Postby wendy » Dec 30, 2006 12:15 pm

that is one crazy written article. Its like a second story almost. Sorry for that family's loss.
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Postby STLCaver » Dec 30, 2006 6:53 pm

The name of the cave is Antonia Pit (MSS # JEF083) It is a single shaft 71' deep. The guy reportedly short roped himself . He was not a caver. He did not have any vertical gear. This is a very pretty little pit. I am sure it will be closed from now on. Tony
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