On March 12, 1983, James Ellison and his son Joe were caving in the Devil's Den, near Pilot Mountain on the way to Fancy Gap, Virginia. They found a cave with a 30 foot drop to the floor of an entrance room. They could see a ledge on the east side with a passage leading off so they looked around to find an entrance leading to this, in hopes of a climb-down.
Finding an opening, they descended a slippery 10 feet to a passage. This led to a pit, so James Ellison descended on a rope 10 feet to a slippery ledge. The bottom was perhaps 20 feet lower. He reascended and they tried to continue to the ledge in the entrance room of the Den. As Joe descended the three or four feet to bypass the pit, he slipped and fell to the bottom.
James rerigged the rope, descended to the ledge again to find Joe was apparently unhurt. James found some wood from which to rig the rope to the bottom. Joe tied himself on and James got him out.
James Ellison "Devil's Den" Der Fiedermaus (Flittermouse Grotto) Apr. 1983 2 pp.
These cavers had a belay rope but failed to use it in an exposed situation.