Cave Rescue, November 26, 1983
Swago Cave, WV


At 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, four cavers entered Swago Cave in West Virginia. They had ropes and gear for the four drops to reach the Carpenter side of the Carpenter-Swago Cave System as well as photo equipment. Heavy, rains the previous day had made water flow high so they wore wool clothes under coveralls and used trash bags to keep water off.

After B hours of caving through the Dry Gallery and the extension they decided to go out. Hauling the now wet packs and rope through a 1200 foot stoop-walk passage Greg Miller (37) tore a lower back muscle and strained other muscles. The 2nd drop was thus made very slow and difficult with Miller using his arms for most of the work of ascending, June Miller (wife, 35) was next up. It was decided that she would go for dry clothes while the others sought help from cavers at nearby caves.

The dry clothes arrived at 2 a.m. but communication down the 70 foot entrance pit was impossible due to water noise, so June Miller descended. At 3:40 a.m. the first rescuer descended while others set up a hauling system, Another descended with a hot drink and hauling system instructions. The two victims were hauled up by 4:40 a.m, Judy Miller having become cold during the wait.


Jim Vernon Personal Communication Dec 19, 1983.

Steve Goslawski Personal Communication Dec 13, 1983.

Bob Warshow "Swego Pit Rescue" Massachusetts Caver Dec, 1983.

Greg Miller "Incident-Swego Pit, West Virginia" Report to the NCHC Dec 2, 1983.

Greg Miller Personal Communication Jan 27, 1984.


It was 7 weeks after the incident before Miller's muscle$ had healed. In youth he had suffered polio, but this situation is not different from anyone who overextends and becomes exhausted. In this case the wet gear was a burden they had not expected-their previous experience was mostly in the dry caves of the Guadalupes. We must all do our best to learn our limits and see the situations we encounter in the light of these limits. In this case, the trip through the stoopway perhaps should have been declined.