Three Claremore residents are home recovering after being trapped in a Tennessee cave for 18 hours. And, the brother of one of the survivors is in trouble with the National Park Service. The News On 6's Dan Bewley report the park service says the four were not prepared for the expedition and the one who led the group will have to tell his story to a federal judge.
He's now at home in Claremore with mom and dad, but 48 hours ago, Jake Layman was the focus of rescue teams in Tennessee. The 17 year old and two friends were spring breaking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Knoxville. Late Thursday night, they decided to explore Rainbow Cave and began a 300 foot odyssey.
"Three levels of a whole bunch of drops and stuff. We got down all the way, we weren't thinking it would be a problem getting back up," said Jake Layman.
It was a problem because the cave follows the trail of a waterfall.
"Every hole that we dropped down was just a pouring waterfall. We tried to pull ourselves back up and that water was just hitting you. It just shut your body down. It was so cold," said Jake Layman.
Jake and his three friends had no choice, but to wait for help the next morning.
"It just really seemed like it took forever, we were just sitting there on a rock," said Jake Layman.
Nearly 800 miles away, Jake's parents got a phone call.
"We just knew to trust in God. That's all we could do," said Linda Layman, Jake's mother.
Faith is strong with the family. They've already lost one child. Jake's sister died in a car crash two years ago.
"But you know, there's no coincidence this weekend. God. Easter weekend. What a miracle for us," said Linda Layman, Jake's mother.
The miracle came at 2 o'clock Friday afternoon.
"The guy yelled at the top of the hole, yelling 'Woo-hoo'. We started jumping up and down, ‘we're here,'" said Jake Layman.
Five minutes later that guy dropped down, bearing gifts: sandwiches. Despite suffering from hypothermia, the four were safe and above ground.
"The rescuers told us people usually die after ten hours. Their body just can't function. We were down there, probably, 18 hours by ourselves," said Jake Layman.
The older brother of one of the teens, Garry Blakesly, who is an Owasso native, but now lives in Tennessee, was ticketed by the park service for failing to get a permit for caving. He says he didn't know he needed a permit and now faces a fine of up to $500.
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03/23/08 Teen Returns Home After Cave Rescue