Cavers assisted from underground Cuzco site

By BILL POWELL
Herald Staff Writer

CUZCO — Authorities were summoned late Tuesday night to a site east of Cuzco to check on the welfare of three men believed to be Jasper-area residents in their early 20s who were overdue to emerge from a cave on private property.

The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department received a call at 11:28 p.m. that took them to the 10000 block of County Road 625N. Deputies and an Indiana conservation officer arrived and learned that, at about 5:30 p.m., the three men had approached the property owner to request permission to enter a cave on his land, according to the sheriff’s department.

Authorities said the property owner granted permission on the condition that the men stipulate when they would be exiting the cave.

After that departure time came and went, the property owner called authorities.

A cave rescue team was not needed, according to a deputy, because the property owner entered the cave through its tight opening and yelled for the overdue cavers, who were able to follow his voice to the exit.

Conservation officer Jonathan Watkins said the situation “de-escalted pretty fast” once (the property owner) entered the cave and the lost men were able to hear him and communicate back that they were not lost but not injured.

“If they can hear you, that’s a good sign — meaning they are close,” Watkins said. “In a couple of minutes, they were out with no injuries.”

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a cave rescue team that his highly skilled and would be the next option when confronted with a lost or injured spelunker, according to Watkins.

“Most team members are within an hour away,” he said.

Contact Bill Powell