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The tragic death of John Edward Jones, the man who is trapped in a cave for life

John Jones was stuck in a cave for 27 hours until his body couldn’t take it anymore and died

September 6, 2022 4:58pm

Updated: September 6, 2022 7:42pm

John Edward Jones was a 26-year-old young man who loved caving, which involves exploring and studying natural underground caves. In 2009, he decided to visit a deep cave called Nutty Putty, in Utah. However, everything ended in tragedy.

John, who was newly married and had a young daughter, wanted to relive those moments when he was a kid and went caving with his family. On November 24, 2009, he went caving in the dangerous cave with his brother Josh and nine other friends.

The Nutty Putty is popularly known among the Boy Scouts youth organization and college students, but its fame declined after several people became trapped inside the cave, according to Howstuffworks magazine.

John, at 200 pounds and 6'2" tall, decided to break away from the group and explore a passage he believed was what many called the "birth canal," one of the best-known formations in the Nutty Putty.

He tried to fit through a space just 25 cm wide and 45 cm high, only to realize his grave mistake. John took a wrong turn and ended up stuck at a 70-degree angle, the magazine details.

John was trapped in an unexplored area of the cave called "Bob Push." 

"His brother was the first to find him. He tried to grab his legs, but he slid him down even further. By that time, his arms couldn't move either," detailed the archaeological journal All That's Interesting.

His brother Josh decided to leave the cave and call the authorities. By the time help arrived, John had been trapped for three and a half hours.

Susie Motola was the first person on the scene and told The Salt Lake Tribune that she had a short conversation with the victim. "Thank you for coming, but I really want to get out," John said according to the woman's account.

Over the next 24 hours, about 100 rescuers attempted to pull John out of the cave alive. They used a system of pulleys and ropes to mobilize him, but the operation failed when one of the pulleys broke loose from its anchor point because of the slimy clay on the walls, causing John to return to his initial position.

Because of the angle at which he was stuck, John's body was under severe stress, mainly on his vital organs.

The young man held out for 27 hours trapped until his heart went into cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead on November 25, 2009, shortly before midnight.

Rescuers were never able to recover the body and to this day it remains inside the cave. The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration explained that removing it would be complicated and would "put the life of a rescuer at risk."

As a tribute, John's family placed a plaque outside the cave.

In his honor, a film called "The Last Descent" was also released in 2016, which tells the story of John and his rescue process.

Currently, Emily, John's wife, remarried and had two more children, one of them named after the deceased young man. During an interview with the media Deseret, the woman referred to her ex-husband as one of the people who had the greatest impact on her life.



Fast-File Reporter

Marielbis Rojas

Marielbis Rojas is a Venezuelan journalist and communications professional with a degree in Social Communication from UCAB. She is a news reporter for ADN America.