A notoriously dangerous cave so narrow it has been dubbed the Birth Canal was shut down for good with the body of its last victim still trapped inside.
John Edward Jones had experience exploring caves when he was younger and visited Nutty Putty Cave with his brother Josh and nine other people on November 24, 2009. He would never see daylight again after stepping foot inside the cave.
Although the 26-year-old father of one hadn’t been to this particular cave, he was confident in his abilities despite not having done it in years.
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Nutty Putty Cave in Salt Lake City, Utah, had been described as a beginner cave but was known for its tight twists, turns, and crawls, even leaving some scouts needing rescuing years prior.
The tightest spots were called "The Helmet Eater," "The Scout Eater" and "The Birth Canal".
Before Jones took to the popular cave, which welcomed 5,000 visitors a year, there had been six separate rescues of cavers including two Boy Scouts, who had also become stuck inside.
This led to the cave's temporary closure in 2006 due to safety concerns leaving explorers and some locals furious.
Around three years later, in May, just months before the tragic incident, the cave reopened once proper management was established and an application process was developed to ensure safety precautions were being met.
The group took to the cave at 8pm and around an hour into exploring the cave, Jones decided to look for one of the tightest passages, The Birth Canal.
He inched his way through the cave thinking he had found it but soon realised he'd made a grave mistake and he had gone in the wrong direction. Jones became stuck and wasn’t able to go backwards or even wriggle around.
He tried to inhale the air into his chest so that he could fit through a very narrow space that was around 10 inches across and 18 inches high but when he exhaled again and his chest puffed back out, he got stuck for good.
Jones became stuck upside down and after calling for help, he was found by his brother who then called the emergency services.
This marked the start of a huge search operation with hundreds of rescuers called to the scene.
Volunteer Susie Motola was first on the scene, with Jones telling her: “Hi Susie, thanks for coming but I really, really want to get out.”
Little did Jones know he had been stuck in one of the worst crevices in the cave – there were multiple attempts to free him all of which were unsuccessful. They had even considered breaking his legs to free him.
Jones was kept calm throughout the rescue operation by speaking to his wife, Emily-Jones Sanchez, through a two-way cable radio as teams worked as hard as they could to free him.
The best plan they had was to use a system of pulleys and ropes to hoist him up legs first but their attempts were unsuccessful.
Sadly, Jones was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest 27 hours later. It was concluded it would be too dangerous to retrieve his body from the cave following his death.
His body was never recovered and the cave has been closed ever since. A plaque was placed at the cave in memorial of Jones.
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