Cave Rescue, May 26, 1990
Laurel Caverns, PA


On Saturday, May 26, a group of eight cavers entered Laurel Caverns, a commercial tour cave in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The cave, longest in the state, is a series of sizable passages connecting large breakdown rooms. Visitors commonly climb over the breakdown.

The group was a church outing, led by Ken De la Sandro (30). In one room, Ken began down climbing a breakdown pile when he lost his holds and fell approximately 15 feet, landing feet-first in a small pool of water. The victim was a paramedic and did his own diagnosis -- a fractured fibula. He exited the cave with aid from his companions. At a hospital, the diagnosis was confirmed -- the fibula was fractured in three places.


NSS News, December 1990 (Part 2) V4N13, Page 341.

Don Peden, Personal Communication, June 2, 1990, 4 pp.


Peden notes the following: "In the emergency care field, a fall of greater than ten feet where the patient lands on his feet, is referred to as the "Don Juan Syndrome" -- named after the fictional Don Juan, who leaped from balconies to escape jealous husbands. While the chief complaint of these patients is usually lower extremity pain (ankle, leg, knee), a more serious lumbar spine injury often results from the transfer of energy through this area. Thus, lower back injury with potentially serious spinal involvement must always be considered in evaluating and treating (such) victims. When possible, back immobilization should be employed until x-ray and neurologic exams show negative.