Cave Rescue, March 15, 1990
John Brown's Cave, WV


At about 6:30 p.m. on March 15, Mark Wetzel, Tim Jordan and David Walker (Jordan's son), entered John Brown's Cave in West Virginia and spotted a ledge climb that led to a chimney-climb lead. After touring the cave, they stopped while Jordan attempted the previously encountered ledge climb, Wetzel promised he would follow if it went anywhere.

Jordan got 25 feet up, at which point he lost his holds and fell, head-first, onto a slope, down which he tumbled. Wetzel immediately sent Walker for the trauma box and bag (outside in the van). Jordan seemed to be in reasonably good condition and after Wetzel placed a cervical collar on the victim's neck, Jordan made it out with minimal assistance. At the entrance where they had to pass a steel plate with a 1-1.5 foot gap, they rolled Jordan onto his side and pulled him out. At Jefferson Memorial Hospital, it was determined that he had broken his pelvis and a piece off a lumbar vertebrae.


NSS News, December 1990 (Part 2) V4N13, Page 338.

Mark Wetzel, "Trip Report -- John Brown's Cave, " The West Virginia Caver, 8(4) August, 1990, p. 6.


If you can't take the fall without very low probability of injury, use a belay! Still, it is always nice to hear about a self-rescue and this one must have been painful.