The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
Page 20 [contents] ||   ||  ||
 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006

the Ferno—even empty a rather ungainly monolith of "Wildcat Blue" polyurethane, made more awkward still by the premature attachment of the "spider"—a system of rope loops enabling the victim to be lifted from a pit without tilting by means of a winch or crane.  The atmosphere in this group was one of reserved jocularity.  When I transgressed the bounds of civic decency (as is my wont), Jim Currens was quick to remind me to present at least the appearance of professionalism.  Yeah, right, Jim. 

It was not long before we were with Gregg Harrington.  Here, within the cathedral grandeur of the Big Room and the ineluctable seriousness of the circumstances, it was no effort to maintain a somber demeanor.  Everyone spoke in a hush and moved with studied calmness.  The moment Mike Harrington saw me, he asked, "John, where have you been?  What took you so long?"  I felt terrible.  How could I answer:  "Typing"?

Mike was clearly distraught, but he looked as though demons could not have dragged him from his brother's side.  He introduced me to his brother.  I kneeled quietly beside Gregg, who was being tended by Mike Summer's knowing hands, Robert Duncan of the BGG ably assisting him.  Bob McBride, the paramedic who had gone in with the first party, was not a caver (by choice) and looked worn out, but had given his all to ease Gregg's distress.  Now it was Mike Summer's turn to prepare Gregg for being loaded onto the Ferno.  Keep in mind, given the nature of his injuries, nothing could be given to Gregg to relieve his pain.  He would be doing the trip cold turkey. 

But before we proceed, a little history up to this point is perhaps warranted and overdue. 



At 6:25 p.m., well-regarded local caver Don Franklin had led in the first rescue party, accompanied by Bob McBride, Rick Haynes, and Heidi Muse—Gordon Muse's daughter and herself a caver to be reckoned with.  Heidi had led the remainder of the stranded party out of the cave, utilizing the lower route through the Big Room Extension.  This lower route skirts the opaque depths of the Third Lake Room and is seasonally unavailable (without a raft, wetsuit or gills) when the Cumberland Lake level rises above 705' (sea level).  It was for this easily traversable passage that Gregg's party was vainly searching when the accident transpired.  Ironically, Rick Haynes, an EMT and 2nd Lieutenant with the Somerset-Pulaski County Rescue Squad, had himself survived an incredible fall of 250', shattering both legs in Snake River Gorge, California.  Since then, Rick has been making installments in the Cosmic Payback Plan, participating as a principal member of a number of rescues in SVCS.  Thanks to this team of pros, Gregg was in experienced, capable hands from the first moment of the rescue effort. 

After Gary Pence and Alex Wesley of the SPCRS had set up the halogen lights illuminating Garbage Pit Hill, Gordon Muse (who has at work when the initial rescue efforts were organized), led in the second party, which included Alex Wesley, Doug Hufziger and Johnathan Whitaker.  They reached Gregg around 7:30 p.m.

The third rescue party had done much of the nitty-gritty regarding the underground logistics of the rescue effort, setting up phone lines, flagging the route, and hauling the Ferno Stokes basket.  It was a large group that had not congealed into one cohesive until well along the route to the Big Room.  The entrance control log (kept by Wayne Denny of the SPCRS and

Page 20 [contents] ||   ||  ||