incident at Brinegar Cave

ACA 1973 page 3
4th Feb 1973
Brinegar Cave
Incident type
Primary cause
Secondary cause
Group type
Group size
Aid type
Underground aid
Incident flags
Data status

Injured cavers

Name Age Sex Injuries Injured areas
Brinegar, John Not recorded Male Not recorded Not recorded

Incident report

Indiana, Brinegar Cave

Sunday, 4 February 1973

John Brinegar and two others were exploring a high canyon area of Brinegar Cave when some of the breakdown collapsed.
"Brinegar dove forward toward the 12 foot deep canyon but the falling rocks trapped his left leg, which was caught in such a fashion that the weight of the rock was supported by the heal of the caver's boot. and a rock jutting up from the floor, so that there was no weight of consequence on the caver's leg. However, he was left hanging out over the canyon in a very strained position." Brinegar's companions could not free him so left for help. Six members of the Bloomington Indiana Grotto responded with considerable mechanical equipment.
"They tried to jack the rock up but could not: after a bit of examination and discussion, they removed the collapsed pile one rock at a time. located the trapped foot and the specific rock which was causing the hangup. and removed it with the jack."
"Brinegar remained cool and calm throughout the event, even though he had been holding himself in a strained position for some time. He assisted with moving rocks and advising during the rescue operation. When he was freed and removed from the trapped position, it was discovered that his boot was serving as a keystone. and additional rock collapsed near the rescuers, but caused no problem. From that point the removal of the caver was routine. and he was found to have suffered no injuries other than pulled muscles." (Shofstall)

Analysis: Many caves contain unstable breakdown, and even experienced cavers may not always recognize the instability. It is not known whether the victim took an unusually foolhardy chance by exploring that particular breakdown area.

Sources: Shofstall. Don. (April 1973) "Accidents do Happen. Petroglyph. Vol. 10, No. 1. pp. 6-7. Anon. (7 February 1973)
"Heroes - Six Bloomington Cavers Save Illinois Man from Rock Pile." Bloomington, Indiana Courier Tribune. (This was reprinted in various grotto publications in the Midwest.)


Petroglyph V10 No1 p6. Courier Tribune (Bloomington, IN) 2/7/73.

"Heroes - Six Bloomington Cavers Save Illinois Man from Rock Pile." Bloomington, Indiana Courier Tribune.

This record was last updated on 18th Nov 2023 at 00:30 UTC.