Cave Rescue, July 11, 1993
Laurel Caverns, PA


On Sunday, July 11, a group of four was spelunking in Laurel Caverns in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. After about an hour and a half in the cave, they had made their way to the Post Office, about 3,000 feet from and 300 feet below the entrance. One of the group, Kelly McKenzie, slipped, landed on the sloping rock below the Post Office and fell another ten feet into the crack between the rock and the wall. When her companions reached her they found she had suffered head, arm, and knee injuries and was unconscious.

Meanwhile the Western Maryland Grotto, NSS, was sponsoring an NCRC Basic Cave Rescue Orientation in the cave with 25 students carrying out a practice rescue. They were proceeding with a mock victim in a litter and had reached the Ballroom when word came of the real victim. One caver exited to make calls for additional manpower and others headed for the Post Office.

Rescuers soon reached McKenzie to find her conscious, but disoriented and amnesiac. They feared a head injury and soon had her packaged and transportation underway. This was slowed by breakdown and the ascents (apparently non-roped) required. Rescuers had the litter handlers line up, then pass the litter along on their laps, then leapfrog the crew and repeat the action. About every ten minutes they would check the victim's vital signs. She appeared to improve as they went along.

When they were about halfway out a rescue helicopter arrived outside, bringing two doctors. They entered and assessed the victim. The extrication continued and was completed about seven hours after the accident. McKenzie was found to have suffered fractures to both arms and various bruises.


NSS News, December 1994 (Part 2) V52N12, Page 393.

Editor "Spelunker picks right time to fall" Dead Dog Dispatch 8:8 Aug 1993, p 129; from an Associated Press article in The Herald Mail (Hagerstown, Md) Jul 12, 1993.

Jim Kennedy "Laural's rescue report" The Loyalhanna Troglodyte 7:1 Fall 1993 pp 16-17.


Perhaps incidents like this are to remind us that cavers are hazardous even with rescuers nearby.