Colorado Caver Stuck 18 Hours In Passageway

Rescuers From Across Colorado Help Free Man Trapped In Glenwood Cave

A Colorado cave explorer spent 18 hours pinned in a tight passageway before he was finally rescued, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Wednesday.

Rob Gillespie, 38, of Durango, Colo., was exploring a new cave on private property with two friends on Iron Mountain, below the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Saturday evening when he became pinned in the passage and unable to move.

His two friends were unable to free him and called for help.

The Garfield County Sheriff's Office was notified at 8:55 p.m. and further efforts to reach Gillespie were not successful.

Members of the more experienced Colorado Cave Rescue Network were called out Sunday morning and 27 cavers from all over the state began arriving Sunday afternoon to continue the rescue.

L.P. Lawrence, of Colorado Springs, a member of the network, arrived at the cave around 4:30 p.m. Sunday and said efforts to that point were unsuccessful.

"The guy was still trapped,”" she told the Post Independent. "It was almost under the tram, it was kind of below the (cave) tour part of the (commercial) caves."

She said that Gillespie's hip was pinned in a very tight passage.

"His stomach faced the ground, his head was down and his legs were bent," she said. "One of his arms was pinned to his chest."

Rescuers used a small electric jackhammer and a drill to loosen and remove rock around Gillespie’s pinned hip.

Daniel Laos, also of Colorado Springs, was able to crawl into the cave and release pressure from Gillespie’s hip. He was the only person in the group small enough to fit far enough into the cave passage to reach Gillespie.

Gillespie finally emerged from the small cave at 5 p.m. Sunday. He was dehydrated, but otherwise unhurt.

Ironically, the Colorado Cave Rescue Network has a mock cave rescue scheduled at Glenwood Caverns in two weeks, so many of those who participated in the weekend rescue will likely be returning to the area to hone their rescue skills.

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