North GA man rescued from cave - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

North GA man rescued from cave

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 WALKER COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Emergency responders in North Georgia have successfully pulled off a cave rescue after a man became trapped in wet, slick and muddy conditions.

A group of three men entered Pettijohns Cave in Walker County around 6 p.m. Tuesday, and one wouldn't be pulled out until early Wednesday morning.    

Walker County has more than 150 registered caves. Around 50 are explored regularly. The county's cave rescue team is called out eight to ten times each year to put their extensive training to use when cavers become lost, stuck or injured.

In this case, the rain worked against the group of men. One got stuck, one stayed by his side, and other climbed his way out to call 911.

The group of friends took pictures as they made the climb through Pettijohns Cave in the Crockford - Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area Tuesday evening.

"We were going down to the cave to film for my Youtube channel about facing your fears and overcoming depression," Slaney said.

But in 21-year-old David Slaney's attempt to conquer his fear, it happened. He got stuck deep inside cave.

"Apparently it started raining while we were underground causing the rock to get real slippery and I just wasn't able to get a grip," Slaney said.

"Pettijohns is a pretty large cave. It's six miles long, it's multiple levels, it's muddy, it's uneven terrain," Walker County Fire Chief Randy Camp said.

And its temperature stays between 55 and 58 degrees year round. Combine that with wet clothes and Slaney was in trouble.

"If you're not properly dressed to stay warm you can definitely become hypothermic real quick," Chief Camp said.

"I don't want to die cold," Slaney said.

He wasn't injured, just not able to climb up a slick and steep slope. That was around 11:30 p.m. One friend stayed with him, while the other made it out and ran into cell phone service by around 2 a.m. The cave rescue team rushed to the scene, setting up a communication system and rigging a pulley. It's something they've recently practiced in this exact cave.

"They pre-plan rescues and scenarios and actively work those caves," Chief Camp said.
"They were an amazing group of people that came in with the best attitude. They were as kind as could be," Slaney said.

It took about two hours, but they finally lifted him out on a harness cold, weak and shaken up, but otherwise unharmed.

"Exhilarating to finally be out of there," Slaney said.

Chief Camp says to always go caving with people more experienced than you. Slaney says he's going back down in Pettijohns this Saturday, but this time is taking a rope ladder, helmets and a larger group.

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