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
John Young) reveals that the members of the "third" party entered at various times between 7:40 and 10:20 p.m., performing their diverse duties before uniting into the group of cavers that we overtook near the Hogback. 

But all that was behind us now.  The calm the reigned as we prepared for our return was a sobering hiatus to the bustle of locomotion, deepening the Pantheonic impression of the Big Room, its ceiling soaring a hundred feet above where Gregg lay.  It was nearing midnight. 

Mike Harrington was squatting beside his brother, reassuring him.  Despite his agony, Gregg found the resources to muster a smile.  Mike was telling him flattering things about me, to cheer him up I guess, but to hear my praises under such dire circumstances made me feel all the more ridiculous and ineffectual.  Gregg whispered something to me; the sudden seriousness in his eyes told me it was something very important.  I leaned close.  "Please don't let them hurt my arm," he whispered again.  His arm, swollen thrice its size, was the primary source of his discomfort.  "Not if I have to break all four of my limbs to prevent it," I told him, meaning it as much as I have meant anything in my life. 

Glancing to the boulder above our heads, it was impossible to believe someone could survive such a fall.  (In a solo clean-up trip following the rescue, Justin Gibbs measured Gregg's plunge.  The usual descent route is not from the South Overlook per se, but from a crawlway tube that diverts west of the Overlook, emerging as a porthole in the south wall of the Big Room.  From this opening, it is eight feet to the flake ledge that offers the first foothold.  It is a total distance, though, of fourteen feet to the boulder where Gregg's boot made glancing contact as he was


catapulted from the wall moments after beginning his rappel.  From this boulder it is an additional 33' freefall to the breakdown-littered floor below.  Given that Gregg had proceeded a couple feet when the rope snapped, the actual span of his fall was around 45'.  The 70' drop reported in the newspapers was a guesstimate made in the heat of crisis, hastily deduced from the Big Room's lofty ceiling height, and this exaggeration was never rectified in print.)

Miraculously, Gregg had landed between two jagged boulders, but apparently his right arm had not cleared the rocks completely and looked to be crushed, seeping blood through its layers of bandage in several places.  Gregg's left arm was broken as well, as was his left leg.  But Gregg could not feel his legs, nor anything below his upper torso.  The extent of his spinal injuries could only be guessed at, but we prepared for the worst.  One thing was certain:  Gregg's mind was not impaired.  He was lucid to a fault.  Alex Wesley maintained a comforting dialogue with Gregg, which was both a distraction from his pain and a monitor of his state of consciousness. 

Moving Gregg onto the Ferno was the next critical juncture, as none of us were certain how moving him would affect him.  This was accomplished with surprising smoothness, however.  There were fortunately ample hands available to gently lift Gregg by the material of his clothing the couple inches of height required to place him onto the Ferno with minimal disturbance.  Mike Summers and Robert Duncan wrapped Gregg in blankets and extra clothing to prevent hypothermia in the long trek toward Garbage Pit.  A brace had been placed to immobilize Gregg's neck and head, but it was apparently very uncomfortable, digging into the back of Gregg's neck.  Several adjustments reduced but never eliminated the discomfort Gregg was experiencing from the brace.

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