Cave Rescue, July 26, 1967
Staunton Quarry Cave, VA


On 26 July, blasting with dynamite at the Valley Stone Quarry near Staunton broke into a cave passage that was previously unknown. On Saturday, 29 July - three days later - a group of four quarry employees entered the cave, shortly after 7:30PM. They were Charles Vaught (28), John Miller (18), Johnny Branner (24), and David Price (21).

The four men, carrying ropes and flashlights, had gone about 70 feet into the cave when they noticed the air becoming "foul." They began breathing faster and decided to leave. Branner and Price made it back to the entrance but Vaught and Miller were overcome by fumes. Rescue operations were initiated.

One member of the Staunton Rescue Squad, Melville Fitzgerald (49) who reached the scene quickly, attempted to enter the cave. He reached the room where the victims were lying and reported that one was still breathing, but was himself nearly overcome, escaping very narrowly.

The cave was ventilated artificially and, at about 10:00 PM, the bodies of Vaught and Miller were removed.


NSS Cave Accident Reports, 1967, Page 9.

Newspaper Clipping, source unknown.


Dangerous gases - most likely including carbon monoxide - were left in the cave by the blast, and natural ventilation had not removed them in three days. The quarry supervisor stated that he had warned the men about this.