Cave Rescue, May 23, 1987
Luddington's Cave, WV


In the afternoon of Saturday, May 23, four cavers, Bill Balfour, Jim and Darlene Borden, and George Dasher, were attempting to enter the Bell entrance of Luddington's Cave in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. This entrance had suffered a collapse some 10 years before but was still open. They could feel cold air and bats occasionally flying out.

A short chimmney down led through the collapsed area; just beyond was a low crawlway. Balfour, Jim Borden, and Dasher descended the chimney. Balfour tried the crawlway but couldn't make it through an especially low place, even with his helmet off. He turned back while Borden, also in the crawl, handed Balfour's helmet and light to Dasher who passed it up to Darlene Borden. At about 6 p.m. Dasher started up the chimney.

When he put his foot against the back wall, it dislodged a slab of rock about one and a half by two by four feet, landing on Jim Borden (31) who was exiting the crawl. The small end of the slab landed on his right shoulder, back and head while the heavy end hit an elevated part of the floor, just in front of him. A piece of the slab broke off, hitting Borden's right knee and landing in front of Balfour's face.

Dasher immediately climbed back down and pivoted the block off Borden. A few seconds later, Borden moaned; soon he was able to converse and after a couple of minutes he was able to get up and climb up the chimney, out of the cave. He had suffered only bruises.


NSS News, December 1988 (Part 2) V46N12, Page 482.

George Dasher West Virginia Caver 5(3) June 1987, p 14.

George Dasher Personal Communication May 27, 1987.


Borden, wearing a Joe Brown helmet, was reportedly lucky the rock fell just the way it did.

One thing seems clear from the reports of recent years -- rock fall is one of the prime hazards in caves and is much more common than once thought to be the case. It can probably happen anywhere, but in areas of obvious instability it is well to be a bit paranoid of your movements and those of your companions.