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. 2, June 2006
flotation device and knowing how dire Darshan’s condition was, I made the decision to call.  It was his life on the line, not mine; we had to call.  The first rescuer arrived in less than ten minutes.  I was gathering supplies.  I filled him in on the situation, gave him directions to the location and asked him if he was coming with me.  He and I nearly came to blows over whether or not I was to go back in alone, but he had to wait for the whole team. 
This is a difficult decision.  From the rescuer’s perspective they do not want another victim, and going back into the cave alone when wet and tired is very dangerous.  They also want someone to lead them to the victims and I was the best choice.  In this circumstance I decided to go back in for significant reasons: first the route to the victims was easy, it follows very large passageways and is relatively short. Second Jason was there and he knew the way to Echo Junction, although he had given his headlamp to someone in the cave as a backup so he couldn’t go with me. Most importantly, I have worked with many rescue squads before and I knew that it would be a very long time before they got to Darshan, whereas I could get him supplies quickly. 
I set off (just before a policeman arrived and they considered holding me) with 200’ of thin rope, food, water, and warm, dry clothes and a blanket all wrapped in several trash bags.  I held the rope to me and left the supplies on the far shore and then pulled 
them across.  I had Darshan strip, I dried him off, gave him food and water, and he immediately started to improve.  It took me around 40 minutes, since leaving him, to get back to him with these supplies.  It took the rescue squad five hours to get him across the lake.  He would have been in even more critical condition by the time that happened, whereas the medics were surprised at how well he was doing and he was able to walk out (after five hours with warm, dry insulation and food and water).

With everything considered this was more of a case of stranding than of anything else.  If supplies hadn’t gotten to Darshan when they did, or if anyone else had gotten in the water (they were going to before I told them to stay) this could have been much worse and we could have been pulling bodies out of the water.  The rescue took about 11 hours total and involved much more than was needed, but one cannot ask for half a rescue and when someone’s life is on the line, the call must be made.  We are all very grateful for the team that arrived, and for everyone who spent a sleepless night that weekend. It is because the proper rescue steps were taken that everyone was able to walk out.  I’d personally like to thank Kyle, Heidi, Don, and Tracy for their part in the rescue effort. I would also like to say something to the news stations whose reports grew more and more erroneous, even though they had the real story the whole time, but I won’t say what I have to say because it’s just not nice.
    This was a sobering experience that everyone involved learned from, one that can never approach being justified to those involved, unless everyone who reads this is able to learn from it.  It is hard to know all of the moods of a cave, even if one thinks that they are very familiar with the cave.  It is possible, however, to avoid setting a course that is beset by dangers.  It is possible to make the right choice at every turn and to allow for mistakes when they are made.  This type of accident is the result of many
poor choices, and of compromising circumstances, but in every case it is the responsibility of the group leader to make the right choice and look out for the group.  A string of small, inconspicuous mistakes is often more dangerous than a catastrophic error. In most cases, although they may result in equally dangerous circumstances, the lack of an outstanding error makes the danger more difficult to recognize.  It is in being unaware of dangerous circumstances that the greatest danger lies. 

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