Teen Rescued From Cave - Trapped For 12 hours
|A Minnesota teen is safe after
being rescued from a cave located north of Cresco, Iowa, not far from
the Minnesota border. Andy Wernimont, 16, of Byron , MN was trapped
in Skunk Cave for 12 hours before being rescued by Minnesota cave
explorer John Ackerman.
entered the cave at 10 a.m. Saturday morning with his father and
2 friends, and after approximately one hour Andy became hopelessly
wedged in a tight crevice. Soon thereafter a 911 call alerted authorities
from Iowa and Minnesota, including caving organizations from both
states. The Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, the Winona Rescue
Unit, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, the Winneshiek County
Sheriff’s Office, the Decorah Fire Dept., the Howard and Winneshiek
County Ambulance Services, along with other specialized individuals
and groups converged on the scene. In addition, a helicopter from
Mayo Air Ambulance landed near the cave.
Wernimont and John Ackerman
|In spite of their best efforts, Andy
was hopelessly wedged tight. The Minnesota DNR eventually assumed
control of the in-cave rescue attempt, but in spite of their best
efforts using an array of rescue equipment, including an industrial
electric hammer drill and a hydraulic pump, the boy remained stuck.
The cave temperature was 48 degrees, and Andy’s condition began to
fail rapidly due to the onset of hyperthermia.
Authorities had earlier attempted to contact John Ackerman, a cave
explorer and owner of the Minnesota Cave Preserve, but Ackerman
and friend David Gerboth were exploring a Minnesota cave and could
not be located. Finally Saturday evening Ackerman and Gerboth received
the urgent message and sped to the scene. Ackerman raced into the
cave, carrying specialized rescue gear, including a battery operated
hammer drill and small explosive charges.
Within minutes of reaching the accident site Ackerman successfully
pulled the boy free without resorting to rock removal.
At 11:15 p.m., twelve hours after becoming stuck,
Ackerman escorted Andy Wernimont to the surface, where the large
anxious crowd broke into spontaneous applause. Cresco fire chief
Vince Hornberger said that “another teenage boy had been trapped
in the same spot about 20 years ago and also needed to be rescued.”