Emergency Workers Talk About Cave Rescue


Union County (WVLT) - We have a first-hand account from rescuers who pulled an unconscious explorer from the bottom of a Union County cave.

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pique continues to recover Tuesday after his line broke and he fell 80-feet down.

Members of the Paulette Volunteer Fire Department return to a sliver of a hole in the ground, off Hickory Valley Road in Union County, north of Maynardville. Unseen beneath this crevice is a cave that travels 80-feet underground.

"There were two, 30-foot ledges they had to bring him straight up over, so it was tough, it was tough getting him out," Volunteer Firefighter Tony Owen says.

Assistant Chief Owen helped rope rescue the head-injured patient, who was in and out of conciousness.

"Real muddy, damp, it was cool, the rocks were just real slick, and just real steep," Owen continues.

"Most anybody can grab a rope and jump into a cave," Firefighter Matt Lovitt says.

Problem was, the dry-rotted rope snapped.

"It was a little work rope that was tied right here around this tree," Owen says.

Members of the Knoxville Volunteer Rescue Squad clean up and re-pack gear after helping with the rescue.

Armand Mendez, Knoxville Volunteer Rescue Squad 20:42>-
"As we entered the cave, I was on rope 100-percent of the time, and at no point did I come off that rope," Armand Mendez says.

Companions of the patient came out of the cave unhurt.

"The gentlemen that were in the cave had no caving gear at all, they had no helmets, no harnesses," Mendez continued.

Nearly two dozen unpaid volunteers from four different agencies helped rescue the men.


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