The woman was with friends, exploring an area known as Thunder Canyon Caves off McCain Valley Road in Boulevard, when she got wedged in a gap about a foot wide on Saturday afternoon, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Her companions tried in vain to free her before making a 911 call shortly before 6 p.m., Lt. Jeffery Ford said.
Deputies, volunteers with the sheriff’s Search and Rescue Division, personnel with the state Office of Emergency Services and a cave-rescue team with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department responded to the emergency, launching a lengthy effort to free the victim.
“It takes hours to hike into the caves, and rescuers had to inch their way into very narrow passages while slowly passing along their gear and equipment,” Ford said.
The rescuers monitored the woman’s condition and kept her warm with blankets to prevent hypothermia while using rope mechanisms to extricate her, finally getting her out of the cave about 10 a.m. Sunday, the lieutenant said.
A Cal Fire helicopter crew then airlifted the woman to a safe location, where medics treated her for scrapes, bruises and exhaustion.
Here are few safety reminders when caving according to the San Diego County’s Sheriff Department:
- Never go caving alone
- Tell someone where you are going and when you’ll return
- Stay on the trail if one exists
- Pay attention on your route
- Watch out for tight crevices, low ceiling, uneven footing and other hazards
- Wear proper clothing and shoes
- Bring light sources
- Even though there is no cell service in a cave, it is important to take a fully charged phone so you can call for help as soon as you’re outside