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Stuck upside down in Utah cave for a day,26-year-old dies

A UTAH cave’s narrow crevice that trapped and eventually killed a medical student will become his final resting place,and the dangerous cavern will be permanently sealed.....

Written by Associated Press | Spanish Fork | Published: November 29, 2009 2:01:49 am

A UTAH cave’s narrow crevice that trapped and eventually killed a medical student will become his final resting place,and the dangerous cavern will be permanently sealed.

State and county officials said on Friday that any effort to recover the body of 26-year-old John Jones from the cramped passage would be too dangerous.

Jones,of Stansbury Park,died just before midnight on Wednesday — about 28 hours after getting wedged in a tight,unmapped passage with his head at an angle below his feet. Workers had tried to free him from the shaft about 100 feet below the surface and about 400 feet from the cave’s entrance.

Jones was trapped in a vertical shaft about 18 inches wide and 10 inches high within the 1,500-foot Nutty Putty cave,located about 80 miles from Salt Lake City.

A “Herculean effort” to free him was limited by the cramped space,leaving one rescuer chipping away rock with a ball-peen hammer just six inches to swing,said Sgt Tom Hodgson,coordinator for Utah County’s search and rescue operations.

Sheriff Jim Tracy said Jones’ exact cause of death will probably never be known,but contributing factors likely included his inverted position for a prolonged period of time and the cave’s cold temperatures.

“If we put other people in that same location,they could get stuck or get hurt,” said Lt John Valentine,also of the county’s search and rescue.

Those who met on Friday morning—state officials from the agency that owns the land,the cave’s operators,Jones’s family and law enforcement officials—said they decided to close the cave as quickly as possible.

“We feel like it would be John’s will to protect the safety of future cavers,” his brother,Josh,said on Friday. The family will be allowed to place a memorial marker at the cave.

For the past two years,the St George native was attending medical school at the University of Virginia,hoping to pursue a career as a paediatric cardiologist. Jones,his wife Emily and their 13-month-old daughter had come home to Utah for the Thanksgiving holiday and to share the news that another baby is expected in June.

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