Injured caver's wife meets his rescuers
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A man rescued from 800 feet inside a north Georgia cave earlier this week is pulling through. Doctors say his recovery and the way he was rescued is miraculous. Friday, his wife met the people responsible for pulling him out alive.
Dwight Kempf is still in critical, but stable condition here at Erlanger. He has a broken femur and fractured skull. He's not speaking yet, but his doctors are hopeful.
Rescuer Danielle Baasch says she's not a hero, but Dwight Kempf's wife, Jill, informed her otherwise.
Dwight was in a group of four from Pennsylvania, exploring Ellison's Cave in Lafayette Sunday, for the third or fourth time, when he fell 30 feet. He broke his femur and cracked his skull.
A friend climbed out and ran two and a half hours to call for help. The other two controlled his intense bleeding.
"They're experienced. They go prepared, but there's always that chance," Jill Kempf said.
Sunday evening, Jill Kempf got the call that her 54-year-old husband of 30 years was hurt and stuck 800 feet inside the cave.
"I felt like my heart was pumping out of my chest," Kempf said.
"Is he alive? Is he not? We didn't know," Hamilton County Cave Rescue Team Member Danielle Baasch, RN said.
When the Hamilton County Cave Rescue Team found him, he was alive and talking. They gave him life-saving trauma care down in the cave.
"We raised him up which is probably one of the most incredible things I've seen just because this pit is huge, just massive," Baasch said.
It took more than a hundred rescuers 22 hours, before they were able to pull him out of the country's deepest free fall pit.
"This is a success so far because of the pre-hospital care he received," Dr. Vicente Mejia said.
"The fracture was on the frontal region right here, probably an area where the helmet did not cover," Dr. Peter Boehm said.
He had surgery on his leg Thursday, his most recent cat scan shows his head is healing, and they hope to take him off a ventilator within the next 24 hours.
"I'm not a widow. That's what that means," Jill said.
She asks that instead of sending Dwight flowers or get well cards, that you donate to the local cave rescue teams, who are volunteers and pay for their own gear and training.
Click here to make a donation or call (256) 852-1300.