Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

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Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

Postby Ernie Coffman » Jul 19, 2008 5:51 pm

Here's an article on a seventeen year old girl, who got wedged in a cave in Arkansas. See the link: ... menu1344_2 . A similar incident happened to a male, about the same age, but in eastern Iowa. His incident wasn't as serious as this teenage gal, though. :cave softly:
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Re: Rescue at Devil's Den Cave, AR, 18 July 2008

Postby Bill Putnam » Jul 20, 2008 8:13 pm

More info on the rescue at Devil's Den Cave, Arkansas:

FAYETTEVILLE — Bianca Calloway lay in a hospital bed on Saturday as she reflected on how her first trip into a cave turned an ordeal that had workers toiling 17 hours in an effort to free her.

Calloway, 17, of Van Buren became pinned an estimated 500 feet below the surface at a cave in Devil’s Den State Park on Friday afternoon. She finally was freed at 6: 30 a.m. Saturday by rescue workers from several agencies.

She was recovering at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville on Saturday night.

“I knew they were going to get me out, so I wasn’t that scared,” Calloway said, while her mother lay on a small couch in her room.

Calloway was nearing the mouth of the cave when she slipped off a ledge and became trapped. Rocks jammed in her back, pinning her abdomen to other rocks.

After extracting Calloway from the rocks, it took workers 45 minutes to get her to the mouth of the cave, said John Luther, director of the Washington County Department of Emergency Management.

That’s because the group could only pull Calloway a few inches at a time through the tight space, he said.

Rescuers used airbags, ropes and pulleys in their effort, plus power tools to break the rock around her. A helicopter waited nearby to carry her to a hospital.

With temperatures near 50 degrees in the cave, Calloway was showing signs of hypothermia and exhaustion while she was stuck, Luther said. She was wrapped in a blanket and given a hair dryer to help keep warm.

Calloway said that her upper body was starting to get warm but that her feet, hanging out of reach, remained cold.

Calloway wasn’t exactly sure when she fell but she estimated it was between 1 and 2 p.m. Initially, her friends tried to pull her out. Then, they went to find help and ran into Nathan Crane, a University of Oklahoma student visiting the park.

“I came up on the situation, and they asked for help,” Crane said. “I said, ‘I’m tall and skinny, and I’ll try to help.’” He was unsuccessful, as were park rangers.

Workers from agencies in Siloam Springs, Madison County and throughout Washington County came together to rescue the girl, Luther said.

The Washington County Search and Rescue Team arrived about 5: 45 p. m., he said.

Calloway’s parents, Louis and Menchu Calloway, rushed from their home and spent the night outside the cave waiting for their daughter.

On Saturday, Menchu Calloway described her experience in one word: terrifying.

The cave is in a part of the park called the maze section.

Bianca Calloway was exploring the cave with friends from Community Bible Church in Forth Smith. She was thankful for their support and everyone involved with the effort.

“God, who was there with me the whole time, helped me make it through,” she said.
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Detailed local newspaper article on Devil's Den, 7/18/08

Postby Bill Putnam » Jul 20, 2008 8:19 pm

Another article from local news, with more details: ... rescue.txt

Rescuers Free Girl From Cave

By Bob Caudle & Charles Huggins
The Morning News

DEVIL'S DEN STATE PARK - An afternoon outing at Devil's Den State Park turned into a nightmare for a Van Buren teenager.

About 2 p.m. Friday, Bianca Calloway, 17, ventured into a cave with a group of friends from the Community Bible Church in Fort Smith.
ZAC LEHR THE MORNING NEWS From left, Louis and Menchu Calloway speak with an unidentified member of the rescue team as they wait for their daughter Bianca, 17, to be freed from Devil's Den Cave at Devil's Den State park near West Fork Friday, July 18, 2008. Bianca Calloway was able to walk out of the cave with help from rescuers at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

The group slid through a crack in the wall of the main cave into a section called Satan's Maze. Bianca lost her footing and slipped into an hourglass-shaped crevice. Her legs were wedged in the rock formation.
SARAH BERRETT THE MORNING NEWS David Comstock with Washington County Search and Rescue exits a cave where 17-year-old Bianca Calloway, of Van Buren, is trapped at Devils Den Friday July 18, 2008.

More than 50 rescuers worked through the night to free the frightened, cold teenager.

Rescuers, using a pulley system and a harness, pulled Bianca from the rocks shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday. She walked, with help, out of the cave.

It took rescue crew members 15 minutes to get the girl from the cave along forest foot trails to the ambulance at the main road. Bianca and her mother, Menchu Calloway, were taken to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. Bianca was in the hospital emergency room under observation late Saturday afternoon.

Bianca's 16-hour ordeal began when she was the last one into the cave following her friends. As she weaved through the maze she slipped and became trapped.

"Nobody gets stuck or in trouble in the main cave," said Harry Harnish, park interpreter.

"The only time someone gets stuck is in Satan's Maze. I'd estimate we have to extract someone from the maze every couple of years. The only injuries we have in the main cave is a bumped head or twisted ankle," he added.

Her friends weren't worried at first, according to 17-year-old Whitney Keen.

They tried to pull her out, but couldn't.

After 20 or 30 minutes the teenagers realized they needed help.

Keen left the group trying to comfort Bianca and went to the mouth of the cave to look for help.

She found Nathan Crane, a University of Oklahoma student, walking the trail and enlisted his help.

Tall and thin, Crane followed Keen into the cave. His thin frame was a good fit for the cramped space. But he too was unable to free the now-scared teenager. His body covered with patches of slick mud, he and some members of the church group walked the half-mile from the cave to the park ranger station looking for help.

"She's just cold right now," Crane said as he walked away from the cave with friends. "She's taking it much better than I would."

Keen, scraping flakes of dried mud from her leg, said, "She's just really scared right now.

"This is her first time to go caving. I think she's done with caves."

Bianca had been trapped for more than an hour when park rangers arrived.

They quickly called in the Washington County Search and Rescue team.

Bianca waited until nearly 6 p.m. for the team to arrive from Fayetteville.

"She was wedged vertically into a vertical space," said John Luther, director of the Washington County Department of Emergency Management. "It was an hourglass-shaped hole and you had to fall a certain way to get trapped. There was no way to work on either side of her." Rescuers had to work from above.

Luther said the unique rock formation and the limited space was a nightmare for rescuers.

"Our smallest guys had to wiggle through a tight space, then turn sideways and pull the rest of his body through," Luther said. "It was one of the strictest natural confinements you could have."

David Comstock, president of the team, served as field general, moving rescuers in and out of the cool depths of the cave.

Rescue workers continued to emerge from the mouth of the cave with frustrated faces, and Comstock would send more back down. Because of the tight proximity of Satan's Maze, only a few workers could fit down there at a time, Comstock said.

The remaining emergency responders had nothing else to do but sit around the cave entrance on a rock wall and crags around the cave and wait for their turn to return to the cave.

Bianca's parents, Louis Calloway and his wife, Menchu, arrived about 6:30 p.m.

Comstock did his best to apprise her parents of her condition. "We can get to her, but there's not enough leverage to get her loose," he said.

Hours passed without progress. The sun began to set behind the bluff, darkness descended on the scene and the long faces of frustrated rescuers turned to apprehension.

The sound of humming cicadas was soon replaced with the hum of a gas-powered generator lighting the scene. Bats swooped above the heads of rescue workers coming in and out of the cave.

Rescuers chipped away at the rock with hammers, chisels and drills. They used webbing, ropes, air bags and haul systems.

Baby oil was one of the low-tech methods applied, Luther said.

It was so constricted, workers had trouble passing bottles of baby oil hand-to-hand over their heads in complete darkness, Luther said, shaking his head.

Meanwhile, the constant 50 degree temperature inside the cave was beginning to have its effect on the teenager.

"Hypothermia was a big factor," Luther said. "It was cool in the cave and her skin had some exposure to the rock."

Chris Peluso, a member of the search and rescue team, said the main thing was keeping somebody with the girl.

"We gave her a lot of fluids," Peluso said. "Mostly lots of hot fluids throughout the night."

They also wrapped Bianca in blankets and used a hair dryer to keep her warm.

"There was an incredible amount of equipment," Luther said. "At any one time, there might be 20 people inside the cave and another 20 people outside."

Bianca's parents sat next to the cave's entrance. By 10:30 p.m., Louis held his hand on his head with a look of disbelief while Menchu buried her face in her husband's shoulder.

Operations were halted about 2 a.m. Saturday while rescuers from Washington County, Benton County, Farmington, and West Fork puzzled over how to free the trapped teen.

There were two emergency room nurses and two paramedics standing by at the site. Air-Evac from Springdale flew its ambulance helicopters to the area twice when it looked like rescuers might have the girl freed, Luther said.

Keith Culbertson, a member of the search and rescue squad, eventually devised a plan using pulleys.

"Basically, we lifted her up and over to an angle. After that, we got her foot under her and convinced her to help us walk her out," Culbertson said.

Luther praised the Salvation Army for bringing its canteen and local restaurants for donating pizza. Lowe's opened up in the middle of the night for rescuers to get equipment, Luther said.

Bianca is expected to go home today and make a full physical and mental recovery, her father said Saturday evening.

Bianca told her father the group passed through the section where she got stuck by using a hand-hold above their heads. When Bianca reached for it, she lost her footing and fell into the crevice.

"She never cried, but sometimes she yelled because of the pain. She handled it pretty well, though," Louis said.

Fast Facts

Devil's Den State Park

• Devil's Den State Park is in the Boston Mountain subdivision, the southernmost, highest and most severely eroded of the three plateaus that form the Ozark Mountains.

• The most unique portion of the park is the sandstone crevice area, which contains approximately 60 crevice caves. The longest is Devil's Den Cave, extending 550 feet into the hillside.

• Geologists believe that, between 10,000 and 70,000 years ago, about 30 acres of hillside collapsed and slid into the valley, causing massive blocks of sandstone to fracture and form numerous crevices and caves. In 1982, the Devil's Den Crevice Cave Area was placed on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission's Registry of Natural Areas.

• The park has between 300,000 and 400,000 visitors a year. There is no accurate figure on how many venture into the Devil's Den Cave.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Staff Report
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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Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

Postby Ernie Coffman » Jul 20, 2008 8:53 pm

Good job, Bill, in finding those two articles. They both bring out the rescue much better and surely see where they had their job cut out for them. What a thing to happen on your first caving trip, though. She'll remember that for the rest of her life, for sure! :doh:
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Re: Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

Postby chaz » Jul 21, 2008 7:11 am

Thanks for posting! I've been wanting to hear about the rescue and I figured I could get some info on here. Sounds like a fly trap for newbies over there in satans maze! Glad to hear it was a success and the girl is back home now.
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Re: Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

Postby Ozarkcaver » Jul 21, 2008 9:37 am

Here is some pretty good news footage also. It was by far the most challenging rescue we have had from there to date.
As crack and crevice problems go, this one was pretty interesting....

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Re: Here's an up-to-date rescue in Arkansas

Postby caver ed » Jul 21, 2008 5:56 pm

I've done that passage many times . It can be a little tricky for the novices. Still trying to figure out where she was stuck along the passage. They have talked of gating it off because it is very easy to get into and it does seem to be a fly trap as Chaz said. We have gotten groups out of there in the past but never had to get involved in any rescues. Great Job to all involved in the rescue. Ed
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