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3 BYUI Students Found Stranded In Cave

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Twenty-three members of the Teton County Search and Rescue team responded to a report Sunday morning of students from BYU-Idaho who had gone caving at the adjoining Wind & Ice Caves Saturday and had failed to return.  Search and Rescue Chairman Tim Ciocarlan says the county received the call about 5:30 am and Teton County Wyoming sheriff’s deputies living in Teton Valley confirmed that the students’ car was still parked near the trail to the caves.  Ciocarlan says a local pilot flew over the area of the caves and discovered an avalanche had run near the mouth of the Ice Cave, so rescuers responded equipped to conduct either a cave rescue or avalanche rescue.  Ciocarlan says teams entered both cave entrances, and team members entering the Wind Cave discovered an ice plug which commonly forms and heard chipping from the other side.  Ciocarlan explains that once cavers decend from the Ice Cave to the Wind Cave, a return trip is pretty much out of the question, leaving the students with the only option of chipping through the plug.  He says the three students had been chipping for nine hours and rescuers proceeded from their side for 2 ½ hours and they met in the middle.  Altogether, Ciocarlan says the rescue took 11 hours from the time the team arrived at 7:30 am until the young men were freed.  The students, identified as 24 year-old Simon Jones of Rexburg, 22 year-old Nathan Smith of Mesa, Arizona, and 21 year-old Jarin Traxel of Los Angeles, California were wet and cold, but otherwise OK.  Ciocarlan says the three were marginally equipped and had limited experience.

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