Incident Report

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Incident Report 2020-05-01T16:26:00+00:00

No Guideline Much Percolation.

Incident Date

1907-03-06

Incident Description

I had a buddy he was showing me roundhis cave which he was exploring and knew well; but surprisingly the main danger was to him not me and stemmed not from equipment failure but from overconfidence. The temptation to show off must be strong when itsyour cave. We went in a certain way and we came to a wall thats a bit like the Lips in Devils ear in Florida; like the Lips the main line goes on through a comfortably broad slit; like the Lips there are some options for smaller side passages. My buddy saw a tempting side passage and failed almost catastrophically to resist temptation. He disappeared I cant remember whether he gave me ahold signal into a small silty passage without a guideline - and he did NOT run a reel. Too young too confident too pleased with his very own cave. I dont know. But he very nearly didnt get a chance to repeat his error. I did not follow immediately. I watched the hole for a minute or two with some consternation. I sat on the guideline and decided to go to the entrance of the hole and poke my nose in. A flood of filth met me and convinced me not only that going on was suicidal but that I had better return to the guideline fast or said filth would extend behind me and obscure my return. I waited some more minutes. I returned to the hole running a reel this time but could not find my way in - the siltout was almost total and I kept banging my head on rocks when I tried to advance. At about the same time my buddy was having the same experience trying to get out! Too late he deployed a safety reel... I waited some more minutes. I decided to advance on the main line over theLips to see if there was any sign of him on the far side. There was. Through a small hole in the limestone a considerable flood of bubbles was coming up telling me he was down below me panicked and breathing like a vacuum cleaner. But there was no way down to him through the limestone plateau. I returned to where I came from. I waited some more minutes. By then I was on thirds and the calculation how long to wait was complicated. I wanted to stay a little longer so as to be able to help; but not so long that there would be the danger of a double drowning especially if he emerged from his vacuum cleaner effort short of air and wanted to share. I decided on a figure and waited quietly so as to make the PSI last as long as possible. Meanwhile my buddy had passed from the panic stage to a determination that he was not just going to wait to die. He tied off a SECOND reel and went FORWARD deeper in to the passage since he felt certain he couldnt find his way out the way he came in in the time available. He was hoping against hope that the passage might go somewhere useful. And so it did. It led him to a place where he could see the glow of my light and he presently emerged from a different corner of the stone facade of theLips. He swam straight up to me and shook my hand then and there in the water for waiting for him; and we exited together without need for air sharing. Afterwards ashen faced we made ho-hum-maybe-funny jokes about how it would have been if I had had to retrieve his car key and then explain the situation to the police. I hope and believe his attitude to the guideline rule has changed substantially. I shall not forget how difficult it is to find a way in to a silted passage even if you know your buddy went that way just a few short breaths ago. Two reels were later retrieved from the cave - he just left them lying there when he found the way out.

Lessons Learned

Pride comes before a fall - or a drowning. The joy of showing offhis cave was just too much for this very experienced cavediver. Always run a reel.
Factors
Line Management Major
Gas Management Negligible
Equipment Management Negligible
Equipment Failure Negligible
Training Negligible
Medical Negligible
Planning Negligible
Procedural Error Major
Cave Environment Negligible
Weather Negligible
Other Factor Negligible