incident at Sloan's Valley Cave

ACA 1973 page 16
14th Oct 1973
Sloan's Valley Cave
Incident type
Primary cause
Secondary cause
Couldn't fit through a slot
Group type
Novice cavers
Group size
Aid type
Underground aid
Member of injured caver's party
Incident flags
Data status

Injured cavers

Name Age Sex Injuries Injured areas
Weinecke, George 30 Male No injuries Not recorded
Leonard, Jamie 13 Male No injuries Not recorded

Incident report

Linda Feldstein (20), Ken Macke (19), Paul Macke (13), Jamie Leonard (13), George and Geri Weinecke (in 30's), and a dog named Hector (9) entered the Minton Hollow entrance of Sloan's Valley Cave at 12:30 p.m. with intentions of exiting via another route. It was the first cave trip for Leonard and the Weineckes. 1.2 miles into the cave George Weinecke could not make it through a tight 20-foot vertical fissure, at which point he became angry and hysterical. Ken decided to take the others, who had gone through the squeeze, out the Screaming Willy entrance. He would later return to take George and Paul, who stayed behind, back out through Minton Hollow. On the way to Screaming Willy, an exhausted Mrs. Weinecke developed claustrophobia and hysteria. The group had been following a map and did not realize the Screaming Willy entrance was a 56-foot pit. The party refused to turn back so Ken Macke climbed the pit to get his rope and Jumars from the car, and the help of several other cavers.

Louis Simpson went after the two fellows who had been left behind 2 hours earlier. The people at the bottom of the shaft were given a hurried course in the use of Jumars. Leonard became frightened when his seat sling became untied 10 feet from the top. With the help of others and a fortunately-placed ledge, Leonard made it out alright. The two women, in spite of their fears, managed to climb out of the pit. The dog was hauled out by rope. The last person got out about 10:30 p.m.

Incident analysis

Analysis: It is not advisable to lead beginners into large caves which are unfamiliar to the trip leader. The people involved here were placed in a situation for which they did not have proper training, experience, or psychological preparation. Several of the people, who were already frightened, had to learn vertical techniques in order to get out of the cave.

With few experienced cavers on the trip, it was not wise to split the group when some members could not continue. The outcome of this incident was not serious because there were, fortunately, several very experienced cavers nearby but outside the cave.


Sources: Macke, Ken. (1973) "Screamin" Willy Mishap." Electric Caver. Vol. 9, No. 11, p. 88.
Simpson, Souis E. and Unger, Paul. (1973) "Rescue in Screaming Willy." COG Squeaks. Vol. 16, No. 12, pp. 107-108.
Stewart, Carol. (1973). "Slid Down Mud Hill Having a Good Time." Kentucky Post. 16 October 1973. (reprinted in Electric Caver and COG Squeaks).

This record was last updated on 20th Nov 2023 at 05:02 UTC.