Cave Rescue, May 24, 1987
Butler Cave, VA


On Sunday, May 24, a party of four was surveying in Butler Cave, Bath County, Virginia. A fissure was found with an hourglass shaped stream passage at the bottom. Gary Haynes (23) chimneyed down to assess it for a survey.

He proceeded for a short way, his body in the upper, wide part of the hourglass and his legs in the slot. The going was difficult and when he relaxed to rest, he struggled for 10 to 20 minutes, without success. Toni Williams climbed down to help. Haynes' carbide lamp was out, being jammed with mud.

The lamp was fixed and a half-hour of cooperative struggle got Haynes into a position where he could get one leg free of projections restraining his movement. Then by pushing with his arms against the sloping walls, above the slot, and with one foot against a wall projection, he got free.

He was very fatigued but after a rest he got back up the chimney and was able to make the several mile trip back to the entrance. He had bruised and strained a knee.


NSS News, December 1988 (Part 2) V46N12, Page 483.

Toni Williams "Self-Rescue, Butler Cave" unpublished report, undated, 1 page.


Toni Williams states: "... a narrow crevice, one of the most treacherous types of passages and the most difficult to rescue someone from. His initial struggles apparently only wedged him further."

"Considering the exact shape and dimensions of the outcropping passage, and the location far into the cave through several very tight passages, a full-scale rescue would have been extremely difficult and quite possibly unsuccessful." Hayne' "calm presence of mind, patience, and determination" may have saved him.