Caver dies in Yorkshire Dales despite 17-hour rescue operation

A rescuer at the mouth of the cave. Photo: Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.

A caver has died after falling in a cave in the Yorkshire Dales.

The man passed away despite a major 17-hour rescue operation to save him.

The incident happened at Curtain Pot, on Fountains Fell, near Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

The caver was one of three which had entered an unexplored cave. He fell around six metres and suffered a suspected broken leg.

His two companions left the cave to get help, with one returning to the injured caver and the other directing rescuers to the scene.

A spokesperson for the Cave Rescue Operation (CRO) said: “As an exploration site, the cave was not mapped, nor were the passages of sufficient width to allow extrication of an immobile casualty.

“Realising this would require major engineering work simultaneously at many places along the length of the cave, as well as fully rigging for rescue, the team called on neighbouring teams and our own reserve cavers list to assist with making access and egress suitable, and with rigging the cave so that the casualty could be extricated smoothly once access was secured.

“In the meantime the casualty was provided care by a team doctor assisted by trained casualty carers, who monitored his condition, as well as packaging him for the eventual extrication.

“Unfortunately, due to the nature of his injuries, and the extended time needed to create a navigable way out, the casualty succumbed to his injuries and died just prior to the extrication beginning.”

The Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team was one of several volunteer teams involved in the rescue.

In total, 94 volunteers worked for more than 17 hours during the rescue operation.

The CRO spokesperson added: “This includes nearly 70 personnel on site below and above ground as well as personnel involved in providing food and drink, coordinating resources, both human and equipment, and communications.

“We would also like to extend our thanks to Yorkshire Ambulance Service and YAS HART team and to the Marirtime and Coastguard Agency who remained in close touch in readiness to provide immediate air evacuation in the event of a successful extrication, which sadly was not to be.”

Inside the cave. Photo: Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.