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Cave rescue under way at Airman's Cave, Texas

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 12:18 pm
by Wayne Harrison
EMS on scene on ongoing cave rescue
Sunday, October 14, 2007, 10:41 AM

From Austin-Travis County EMS Public Information Office:

ATCEMS and AFD Special Operations are at the scene of an ongoing cave rescue at Airmen’s Cave, near Barton Creek. Airman’s Cave is used primarily by experience cavers. The underground cave complex is a approximately 12,000 feet in length, and stretches south from under the Barton Lodge Apartments to the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center. The cave complex consists only of small crawl spaces, including a “keyhole” entrance way that measures less than 18 inches in diameter.

A concerned acquaintance of one of the three cavers called 9-1-1 at 5:00 a.m. to report the group had not reported in at midnight as expected. The cavers’ plans included trekking to the far end of the cave complex, which is a 12-hour round trip for experienced cavers.

<a href="">via</a>.


Early History of Airman's Cave <a href="'s_Cave.html">Click Here</a>

Airmen's Cave page <a href="">Click Here</a>

Update: 4 missing

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 2:33 pm
by Wayne Harrison
12:00 noon Update — After speaking to another concerned parent, rescuers now believe there are a total of four students missing in Airmen’s Cave — three female, one male. Rescuers continue to stage water, food and medical supplies as the make their way through the cave complex.

Cave rescue story in Austin Paper

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 3:58 pm
by Wayne Harrison
Rescuers search for missing students at Airman's Cave
By Corrie MacLaggan
Sunday, October 14, 2007

<img src="" align="left">Rescue workers have been searching since early this morning for four people believed to be inside Airman's Cave, a narrow limestone cavity that runs parallel to South Lamar Boulevard.

The people - three women and a man believed to be University of Texas students - set out to explore the cave at around 9 a.m. Saturday, officials said. The cavers told friends to call for help if they weren't back by midnight Saturday. At around 5 a.m., the friends called 911.

Rescue workers with EMS and the Austin Fire Department are searching with the help of local caving groups.

"We have no reason to believe that they're injured," said Frank Urias, an EMS division commander, said of the missing people. "At this point, we're just treating them as overdue cavers."

Officials did not release the names of the missing people.

The trek from the cave's entrance behind the Barton's Lodge apartments on South Lamar Boulevard to the end - 1.5 miles south, past Ben White Boulevard - would take an experienced caver about 12 hours, said Warren Hassinger, an EMS spokesman.

He said some of the missing cavers may have had little to no experience.

"It's definitely not someplace where an amateur or novice wants to be," Urias said of Airman's Cave. "It has very, very narrow passages. It has several areas where its very easy to get lost or disoriented in."

The most challenging part of the cave to navigate is a 16- or 18-inch wide section near the beginning called the keyhole, said firefighter D. J. Walker, who was inside the cave this morning.

He said he had to put one arm above his head and the other arm by his side to wiggle his way inside. Walker, who weighs 155 pounds, said he was chosen to go in because of his size. "If you're over 170 pounds, it's hard to get in," he said.

Rescue workers found water bottles and a cell phone near the entrance to the cave, which seems to indicate that the people are still inside, Walker said.

The fire and EMS workers are using Vietnam War-era phones to communicate with the dozen or so rescuers who are inside the cave, Walker said. The rescuers have brought a spool of telephone wire into the cave because radios and cell phones don?t work inside. The wire - along with glow sticks they're placing along their path - will also help the rescue workers find their way out, officials said.

The entrance to the cave is a 10-minute hike down a rocky trail in the greenbelt behind the apartment complex. This morning, several rescue workers congregated outside the cave's entrance, which is under a rocky overhang. Some had light brown dust all over their bodies from their time inside the cave.

"It's not a fun cave," said Kevin Harner of EMS, who tried to enter the cave this morning but said that although he could have physically fit through the keyhole, it was too much for him psychologically.

"You really have to like caving," he said.

<a href="">via Austin American Statesman</a>

<b><a href="">Video Report</a></b>
"Airman's Cave is approximately 12,000 square feet..." :doh:

3 PM Update

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 4:53 pm
by Wayne Harrison
From Austin-Travis County EMS Public Information Office:

3 p.m. Update — It is likely the first-in “hasty search team” has accessed the far reaches of the cave complex by using the most direct route. Regardless of what the team has found, it will be another 1 1/2 - 2 hours before that information is received at the hard-wired communications link located approximately half-way through the cave complex.

They've been found

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 5:50 pm
by Squirrel Girl
(CNN) -- Authorities in Austin, Texas, have found three cave explorers missing since Saturday in the city's popular Airmen's Cave, the Austin Fire Department said. ... index.html

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 6:00 pm
by MessedUpMike
from Fox news:

Rescue Workers Find Three Students Trapped in Cave Alive

Three University of Texas students who had not emerged from a cave after nearly 30 hours were found alive and uninjured Sunday, an emergency worker said.

"The victims are uninjured, our crews are safe, it doesn't get any better than this," said Frank Urias, division commander of Austin-Travis County EMS.

The two women and one man were found in a 500-foot crawlspace that is about the diameter of a sewer pipe, Urias said. They are expected to be pulled from the cave in a few hours.

A concerned acquaintance of the missing cavers called 911 at about 5 a.m. Sunday to report the group missing after they failed to report in by midnight as had been expected. The four students — three females and one male — had planned to reach the far end of the cave complex, which can be a 12-14 hour round trip for experienced cavers, according to authorities.The underground cave complex is about 12,000 feet in length, and stretches south from under the Barton Lodge Apartments to the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center. The cave complex consists only of small crawl spaces, including a "keyhole" entrance way that measures less than 18 inches in diameter, according to Austin-Travis County EMS.

Rescuers are efforting food and medical supplies to different areas of the complex

Both experienced and amateur spelunkers in the area have also joined in the search.

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 7:22 pm
by Wayne Harrison
For those of you familiar with the cave, they were located in an area of Airman's Cave known as Karen Crawl. That's halfway to the back, heading to Sherwood Forest.

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 8:10 pm
by Sean Ryan
I took the weeklong NCRC class earlier this year, with D.J. and the other firefighters as instructors. They really know their stuff. The people in the cave, given their circumstances, are in very good hands.

PostPosted: Oct 14, 2007 8:41 pm
by hewhocaves
*ugh*... the FOX news coverage is particuarly unwatchable.

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 12:02 am
by Cheryl Jones
(CNN) -- Muddy but unhurt, three University of Texas students emerged from a cramped cave complex in Austin, Texas, after a day-long search Sunday. ... storyemail

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 7:11 am
by Stridergdm
Just caught this on the Today Show. Looks like they're all fine and healthy. However (and this could be editing but I don't think so based on other details) I found it ironic the one young woman they interviewed (one of the women rescued) talked about how safe it was if you knew what you were doing.

Yet in none of the shots of her and her two friends appeared to be wearing helmets. (There was one shot that appeared to be the "money shot" of them exiting the cave with other rescuers; sans helmets.

Glad to see they're safe and sound.

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 7:18 am
by JoeyS
I saw a clip this morning and according to officials, the students left a trail of fresh leaves for rescuers to find them...

How nice.

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 7:30 am
by hewhocaves
If anyone has footage of Maurice Dubois' report on "CBS2's 'News This Morning' please please please let me know (pm, email, etc...) He mentions that he has been caving before. The trip in question was with myself and Sherrye from Central NJ Grotto. Maurice was, to put it gently, very claustrophobic.

I'd love to see his report.

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 9:10 am
by Wayne Harrison
Raw video posted on YouTube... just the staging scene in the nearby apartment complex...
<embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed>

PostPosted: Oct 15, 2007 6:59 pm
by Cheryl Jones
Students ventured into cave suited for experienced explorers

By KELLEY SHANNON Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press

AUSTIN — Three University of Texas students who were rescued from a cave over the weekend weren't experienced enough for their journey inside one of Austin's longest caves, rescue workers said Monday.

"They were out of their element, let's face it," said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services and part of the rescue support team........