A 26 year old Tooele County man died after being stuck in Nutty Putty Cave in western Utah County for more than 26 hours.
On November 24, at about 9:30 P.M., dispatchers with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a 26 year old man who was stuck in Nutty Putty Cave west of Utah Lake, near Cedar Valley. Nutty Putty Cave is located in an area about 25 miles south of Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs and about 6 miles west of State Road 68.
The person who made the report told dispatchers John Jones, age 26, of Stansbury Park, Utah, entered the cave at about 6:00 P.M. on November 24 with a group of about 11 people. At about 8:45 P.M. Jones became stuck in a feature inside Nutty Putty Cave known as Bob’s Push. This feature is very tightly confined, being about 18" wide and 8"-10" high, and is located about 150' below the surface and about 700' from the cave entrance. Jones was positioned with his head down hill and was unable to move further into the cave. He was also unable to move back up the Bob’s Push area.
Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and members of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, along with medical personnel from Goshen and Santaquin Fire Departments responded and began efforts to free Jones from the cave. As time wore on, with Jones being stuck for nearly 19 hours, other agencies were asked for assistance. Crews with technical and confined space rescue expertise responded with personnel and equipment to assist.
Responding to assist with this rescue were agencies from Utah and Salt Lake Counties. From Utah County: Orem Fire Department, Provo Fire Department, Pleasant Grove Fire Department, Goshen Ambulance, and Santaquin Ambulance. From Salt Lake County: Task Force 2, including Murray Fire Department, Midvale Fire Department, Sandy Fire Department, West Valley City Fire Department, Bluffdale Fire Department, West Jordan Fire Department, and South Jordan Fire Department. Additionally, experts with cave experience responded to assist from Timpanogos Grotto and Utah Caving Association.
This operation required nearly 100 rescuers and large amounts of technical and heavy rescue equipment. A communications system was set up enabling rescuers inside the cave to communicate with rescuers at the surface. At length rescuers were able to extricate Jones from the area where he was stuck and raise him a short distance to a more level, yet still tightly confined, area. At that time rescuers experienced an equipment failure causing Jones to fall back into the Bob’s Push area in about the same position in which he had been previously stuck.
As the rescue operation continued it became apparent to rescuers inside the cave, who were able to communicate with Jones, that his condition was deteriorating. They were still unable to extricate him and Jones lapsed into a state of unconsciousness. Due to the tightly confined circumstances rescuers were unable to assess or provide treatment to Jones. Shortly before midnight on November 25 rescuers were able to get close enough to Jones to assess him and determined that he was not breathing and he had no pulse. They reported that information to command personnel on the surface, including medical control. It was determined at that time that John Edward Jones had passed away. Rescue officials are meeting this morning, November 26, 2009, to determine how to best approach efforts to recover Jones’ body and remove him from the cave.
For questions, contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff's Office. (801)404-1912.