Teen Returns Home After Cave Rescue

Sunday, March 23rd 2008, 10:29 pm
By: News On 6

The Claremore teenager trapped in a cave 500 feet underground was reunited with his parents on Sunday morning. Seventeen-year-old Jake Layman spoke to The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith about being underground with hypothermia for almost 24 hours.

It was supposed to be a fun getaway for spring break. Jake Layman decided to go to Tennessee with his buddies. And one night they stopped by a park to go down into the caves. They almost never came back up.

Jake Layman is just like any other 17-year-old kid. But you would never know how close he came to death this weekend.

"The rescuers told us people usually die after 10 hours down there. You know, their bodies just can't function. And we were down there for probably 18 hours by ourselves," said Layman.

For spring break, Jake hit the road to Tennessee with some of his high school buddies.  On Thursday night, they went cave hunting at Smoky Mountain National Park.

"It's like three levels of a whole bunch of drops and stuff. We got down all the way. We weren't thinking it'd be a problem coming back up," said Jake Layman.

After climbing down more than 500 feet, coming back up became a big problem.

"Every hole that we dropped down was just a pouring waterfall. And we tried to pull ourselves back up, but that water hitting you, it was so cold. It just shut your body down," said Jake Layman.

While he was down there, Jake says he kept thinking about one thing.

"I was thinking about my mom. She already lost my sister two years ago in a car wreck. I thought that'd be really hard on her," said Jake Layman.

"I'll be honest, for a few minutes there, it was scary again. The fear gets there," said Linda Layman, Jake's mother.

Jake's older sister, Laci, was killed two years ago in a car wreck. And his mom Linda says hearing that her only son was trapped was beyond words.

"We just knew to trust in God. That's all we could do. You're not there," said Linda Layman.

"We were just praying the whole time. Garry's a youth pastor, so we were just sitting there and praying the whole time," said Jake Layman.

The rescue effort took four hours.

Jake came home early Sunday morning safe and sound. Seeing him watch the NCAA tournament, you would never know what he went through. But his mom has a different perspective

"A miracle. It's our Easter miracle, that's for sure," said Linda Layman.

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