The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006
penetrating the sough of static to report my arrival.  The garbled message came through piecemeal, but was eventually reassembled to be told, “They want you to stay here.”  So I paced the lonesome pavement, utterly unaware of the maelstrom of activity a few hundred feet to the north.  And, as it turns out, they were as utterly unaware of me. 

Dorothy and her daughter Kim drove up as I was rifling through my gear, lacking more entertaining or purposeful options.  I began tying figure-eights in my rope to be used as a hand line for descending the 25’ chimney of Post Office.  Kim told me that J.R. was sleeping (J.R. had been virtually crushed in a dreadful car accident about a month prior and was still recovering), but moments later their door opened, and J.R. negotiated the steps, grimacing with pain, but happy to see me. 

J.R. apprised me of the circumstances culminating in the rescue as he knew them.  He did not know who was underground; just that they had looked well-equipped, appeared in their twenties, and that there was quite a group of them, women also.  He felt terrible that an accident had occurred in their entrance, that he had watched them go in without further inquiry into their experience.  He had recognized one of the party as a regular, but he didn’t know his name.  “Help me out with this, John,” he asked, one friend to another; “Help make this right, help get this mess straightened out for me, OK?”

Help was what I had come to do, but I wasn’t of any use to anyone scuffling about on the blacktop.  I was chomping at the bit to get underground and was very tempted to disregard the deputy’s orders and drop Post Office solo; at least get where I might be useful.  The thought that someone might be dying and mere

bureaucratic protocol stood in the way of progress tormented me.  Previous Sloan’s rescues loomed heavily upon my mind. 

J.R. explained to the amiable deputy that no one, police or not, told his friends where they could or could not go on his property.  The deputy expressed with distinctly southern diplomacy that he could only tell me what he was ordered to tell me.  He would not otherwise impede my movement, especially if it occurred unbeknownst to him.  This satisfied us all, but I was nonetheless reluctant to go against orders.  The last thing I wanted was to be part of the problem, and a Rambo routine in mid-rescue was in dubious form, most assuredly.  Impatience became the overriding mood; even the deputy was annoyed by the prolonged lack of communication from his superiors.  J.R. hobbled upstairs to call the police dispatcher, then returned with the freaky news:  “The rescue’s over.  They’re flying in a chopper to airlift the guy to the hospital.”

Knowing Sloan’s, I could not fathom that a rescue from the Big Room via Garbage Pit could be so hastily accomplished, not even by wingèd caver-paramedics, much less by ordinary rescue personnel transporting someone who had sustained serious injuries.  I was still dubious that someone could survive a fall from the South Overlook.  It just didn’t make sense.

But, sure enough, just as the dispatcher had reported, here came the helicopter, its searchlight slicing through the moonless night to find the field beside the Crockett’s greenhouse.  Any beckoning into the deputy’s walkie-talkie for information was met by nothing more intelligible than the sound of crunching cellophane.  The poor abandoned deputy obviously felt about as useless and out of place as the chaperone

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