On evening Monday, Nov. 8, a British rescue team eventually completed their most adventurous underground mission, saving a cave diver from the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu after he fell 50 feet beneath the Brecon Beacons.
The “hard as nails” cave diver George Linnane, 38, was transported on a stretcher to the university of Wales Hospital in Cardiff at 7.45 p.m. Monday following his rescue that took almost three days, as Daily Mail reported.
On Saturday, Nov.6, Linnane stayed in a £9-a-night cottage near the caves’ entrance. He slipped off a ledge and fell about 50 feet before he managed to grab hold of a boulder. Unfortunately, the boulder came loose, and he fell further with the boulder crashing down on top of him in a section of the network known as Cwm Dwr, Welsh for Water Valley.
Linnane’s companion, another caver, instantly informed the police of the case. Shortly after, specialist rescuers came, responding to the police request. However, they failed to free Linnane from Ogof Ffynnon Ddu—Welsh for Cave of the Black Spring, a cave system known as Britain’s third-longest at 37 miles. His injuries were too severe to take him out the same way he went in.
According to Julian Carter, warden at the south and mid-Wales rescue team, the site of Linnane’s fall was dark but dry, making them focus on keeping him warm.
Then, they used a floating stretcher to move him along an active stream channel.
The rescue team’s challenge was finding the nearest entrance to bring him out. However, they kept him warm and avoided hypothermia.
Spanning 12 hours of working shifts, rescuers said that Linnane was in bad condition, but he was still lucky to be with them, and his injuries were not life-threatening, as Daily Mail reported.
The rescue team was forced to inch Linnane through another route past caving landmarks named Marble Showers and Great Oxbow to access the surface at a mountain spot called Top Entrance.
Seven other specialist teams complete with equipment vans from across the UK were maneuvered in an attempt to rescue the victim.
According to rescuers, Linnane was unconscious for “some time,” suffering suspected spinal injuries, compound fractures of his legs, mouth wounds, neck lacerations, and a broken fibula, tibia, breast bone, collar bone, and jaw.
Bags of pain relief were sent down together with doctors. He is on some strong medication and being treated with a nasal cannula to keep him hydrated.
Eventually, despite experiencing severe injuries, Linnane was pulled from the cave’s system alive. The rescue team had spent the weekend tirelessly working day and night, squeezing through tiny passages in a giant underground human chain in their effort to save Linnane from a 900ft-deep cave system.
People welcomed Linnane with claps and cheers when he was lifted to the surface and transferred to a cave rescue Land Rover ready to be transported down the mountain to a waiting ambulance.
Wales has witnessed the most prolonged rescue operation of its type, lasting 57 hours. The images also reveal around 250 people in caving gear at the site.
Linnane was carefully transported on a stretcher through narrow caverns interspersed with gushing streams and waterfalls with the help of 250 emergency responders, including the team that saved 12 young Thai footballers in 2018.
Linnane’s mother, Mrs. Linnane-Hemmens, expressed her sincere gratitude to her son’s saviors for their efforts to bring Linnane back alive. She even called for contributions to the rescue team volunteers.
The rescue team is a registered charity, established in 1946 to assist cavers in conquering caves in the Swansea and Neath areas, but later expanded to cover emergencies across Wales.