NEW DETAILS: Man rescued from north Georgia cave - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

NEW DETAILS: Man rescued from north Georgia cave

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We're learning more about the man rescued from hundreds of feet down in a north Georgia cave.

He became trapped Sunday afternoon. It took rescuers nearly 22 hours to get him out alive.

An experienced group of four cavers from Pennsylvania was exploring Ellison's Cave near Lafayette when one fell and seriously hurt himself. We no know the man rescued from the cave is 54-year-old Dwight Kempf from Pennsylvania. He's in Erlanger with his wife at his bedside. He is still listed in critical but stable condition.

Caller: "What we need to do is activate a cave rescue."
911 Dispatcher: "Yes sir, we will get them on the way."

"Ellison's Cave is one of the more technical caves in the U.S.," Walker County Emergency Services Director David Ashburn said.

"Wet, watery, steep. Drop after drop," Lafayette resident Chris Saylor said.

Saylor has been in the cave before, once. He says it's so scary, he'll never go back.
"I don't think you should be in it. At all," Saylor said.

Walker County officials say it takes very experienced vertical cavers to even attempt Ellison's Cave, which has the two deepest free fall pits in the country. They have warning signs posted all around Crawford and Pigeon Mountain property.

"There have been more than one death in this cave because it's so hard to get out," Erlanger Emergency Physician Dr. David Wharton said.

In this case, they say the group of four cavers from Pennsylvania was experienced enough, but slipping is always possible.

"They'd never been across and made a wrong turn and he slipped and fell," Hamilton County Cave & Cliff rescue Team Paramedic Andrew Voss said.

Dwight Kempf fell 30 feet, hit rocks, then fell another 30-40 feet, breaking his left femur, and fracturing the base of his skull.

"They tried to holler at him and he wouldn't speak to them," Ashburn said.

Two fellow-cavers gave him basic first aide and controlled the bleeding as the third made the two and a half hour climb and run for help.

911 Call: "We need everybody. We need Huntsville. This person is about a mile deep in the cave."

His wife, Jill, said in a statement, "Dwight's fall was a fluke but also turned out to be an example of how everything works the way it's supposed to. Without them and the rescue/medical teams, Dwight would not have made it out alive."

She says her family is "extremely grateful for all the teams, from near and far, who assisted with his rescue."

When paramedics arrived, he got a blood transfusion in the cave.

"He's one of the sicker ones we've picked up. I'd say in the top three of the ones we've done before on rescues," Dr. Wharton said.

More than 100 rescuers worked to pull him from 800 feet down.

"They built multiple haul systems," Ashburn said.

Nearly 22 hours later, he was out and flown to Erlanger.

Kempf's wife, Jill, says he's "doing as well as can be expected for the injuries he received after his fall."

"We got him and he's still alive and that's two thumbs up," Dr. Wharton said.

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