26-year-old John Edward traveled with his wife and 13-month-old daughter. He had some experience, but not recently. He did the majority of his spelunking as a child. His father took him and his brother on caving excursions throughout Utah.
On November 24, 2009, a few days before Thanksgiving, John and his family decided to go spelunking. They were joined by nine more friends and acquaintances, which formed quite a large group that finally entered the Nutty Putty Cave.
Where is Nutty Putty Cave?
Nutty Putty Cave is a hydrothermal cave in Utah County, Utah, located west of Utah Lake. Dale Green was the first to investigate it in 1960. It has drawn many visitors since its discovery, and it quickly became famous for its narrow and slippery passages, twists, and turns.
Six different people became trapped in one of the narrowest passages of Nutty Putty Cave between 1999 and 2004. The three tightest squeezes in the cave are known as “The Helmet Eater,” “The Scout Eater,” and “The Birth Canal.”
Fortunately, all six people who were trapped in the cave made it out alive. However, with increasing popularity and narrower pathways, it was only a matter of time before such an accident occurred. The cops and rescuers were concerned that the accident would be fatal.
In 2005, crew members discovered the bodies of two men and two women trapped in a narrow, underwater tunnel inside a small, underground chamber of “Y” mountain, which the group had jokingly nicknamed “The Cave of Death” the night before.
This resulted in the closure of Nutty Putty Cave in 2006, citing safety concerns, and its reopening in May 2009. As a result, John Edward and his friends went spelunking.
How Did John get stuck in Nutty Putty Cave?
On November 24, 2009, around 8 p.m., John Jones entered the Nutty Putty Cave. About an hour into the caving expedition, John thought he’d found the Nutty Puuttyy Cave’s birth canal, (the opening of the cave with narrow passages that explorers must enter to get inside), but soon he realised he’d made a mistake.
John went in head first, moving forward with his hips and fingers, and soon became stuck, with no room to turn around. He had no room to crawl or wiggle his way out of the way he’d come.
He tried everything he could to make some space and get out of the cave; he tried to exhale the air in his chest so that he could fit through the space, which was barely 10 inches across and 18 inches tall; as a result, John found it difficult to breathe. He had no choice but to continue; he couldn’t turn around. As a result, he was trapped.
Josh, his brother was the first to find him, and he desperately tried to pull his brother out. But John was pushed even lower in the paassage. He couldn’t move because his arms were pinned beneath his chest.
Josh and his brother John were devoted Mormons. They started to pray, ”Guide us as we work through this,” Josh prayed.
Josh searched for help, but they were in a remote area. The first rescuer, Susie Motola, arrived at about 12:30 am on Nov. 25, at which time John was trapped for three hours, 400 feet into the cave and 100 feet below the earth’s surface.
Susie introduced herself to John: Even though all she could see of him were his pair of shoes.
Hi, John, my name is Susie. How’s it going?”
John responded to her by saying, “Hi, Susie, thanks for coming, but I really, really want to get out.”
Over the next few hours, more and more rescuers worked to get John out of the cave’s depths. Everyone agreed to use a pulley and roping system to try to free John from his dangerously tight spot.
Time was running out, as the human body is designed to walk upright, and it works with the force of gravity, but not against it. When rescuers told trauma physician Doug Muurdocs that he was trapped nearly upside down, he knew John didn’t have much time.
Though Susie knew what it was like to be alone in the dark of the Nutty Putty Cave, she’d been stuck once, but she somehow managed to survive. She tried everything she could think of to free John.
She helped string a rope from John’s back to the rest of the team in an open out at the tunnel’s entrance. The team pulled but it didn’t have enough strength to move John. Susie helped him shift positions, but she couldn’t get him out.
After two hours of trying to get him out, with everything she knew, she crawled out for rest while another rescuer took her place.
About 6 years ago, rescuers saved a 16-year-old boy who was trapped in the same tunnel as John, and it took about 14 hours to free him. However, John was larger and farther down the tunnel, and the rescuers could only reach about 6 inches of his legs.
As time passed, the rescuers realized that the angle of the tunnel meant they couldn’t bend John’s body backward without breaking his legs. The pain could kill him in his terrible starte, and the cams anchoring the pulleys were slipping from their places in the weak calcite.
All hopes lost
With no hope of rescue and his heart having suffered hours earlier due to the strain of his downward position, John Edward was declared dead of cardiac arrest.
After his death, it was decided that removing his body from the Nutty Putty Cave would be too difficult. As a result, it was decided to fill the cave with his body and seal the cave with concrete to create a memorial or burial site for him.
A week after his death, officials sealed off Nutty Putty Cave for good. The Nutty Putty Cave is now a natural memorial and gravesite for John Edward Jones.
Now that you’ve read about the cave, you might also like to read about Wendigo: A Man-Eating Monster Famous From American Folklore