Cave Rescue, February 4, 1984
Hosterman's Pit, PA


REPORT

On Saturday, February 4, a group of five cavers entered Hosterman's Pit in Centre County, Pennsylvania. About halfway through their trip they reached the Subway. In an effort to avoid the water, Jim Kennedy (23) tried to climb to a ledge. In stretching and exerting to reach the ledge, he "applied a little too much rotational force to his right leg, aggravating an old knee injury." He collapsed, partly in the water, but with assistance, pulled himself out. The knee began swelling but he could still flex it and put weight on it. They decided to head out, the others helping Kennedy. He managed a narrow, sloping chimney using only his good leg. He traversed the top of the Pipe Pit on belay and soon was at the bottom of the entrance drop. By modifying his vertical rig into a Texas (one leg Jumar, one seat sling Jumar) he ascended with help from a caver ascending a second rope.


References

NSS News, November 1985 (Part 2) V43N11, Page 357.

Jim Kennedy "Accident Report" Nittany Grotto News 31:2 Winter 1984 p 17.

Jim Kennedy personal communication, March 1985.


Analysis

Kennedy's knee had suffered a "ruptured lateral collateral ligament" 18 months prior to this incident. It had not given trouble for a year so he wore a knee pad instead of a brace. One should consider, however, that a weakened major joint might well give problems in a situation like caving with its diverse and stressful contortions, and do what one can do to control this possibilty, such as wear a brace, and avoid the particular movements that stress the injured joint in the direction it is weakest. Everyone has limitations -- the problem is to find and respect them.