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Orem teen rescued in Nutty Putty cave

By Caleb Warnock - Daily Herald - | Aug 22, 2004

A 16-year-old Orem boy was rescued from Nutty Putty Cave at 6 a.m. Saturday after being trapped upside down for nearly 14 hours.

Brock Clark, 16, was taken to Mountain View Hospital in Payson, where he was expected to remain for several days.

“He is in pretty good spirits, but he is in a lot of pain,” said his mother, Holly Clark.

Brock had been leading a group of about six teenage friends through the cave when he found a small opening that seemed to descended, Holly Clark said.

“He started crawling through that and he slipped and started falling,” she said. “His head was down and he was upside down in what is not a very big area. He thought the area continued, but it didn’t.”

Her son tried to turn his body around to come back up, “but it was way to small for him to turn around in and it only made it worse because now he was folded in half with his legs behind him.”

Once wedged in half, and still upside down, Brock couldn’t move, she said. His friends left that cave and called for help.

Holly Clark said at the time the rescue began, she and her husband, Lynn, had been at the opening varsity football game at Timpanogos High School, where Brock is a student. Brock had planned to leave the cave in time to attend the game.

“We thought he was in the crowd there,” she said. “We left afterward and went out to dinner.”

After arriving home at 10 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy called to say her son was stuck in the cave.

“I was very shocked,” she said. “We immediately got in the car and drove out there.”

Arriving at the cave at 11:30 p.m., she and her husband were told her son’s condition was grave.

“They were very, very concerned when we got there,” she said. “They had not been able to make any headway at all.”

Brock had lost all feeling in his left leg and was in a lot of pain, she said.

Rescuers spent nearly nine hours simply straightening his leg.

“They were only able to move it by millimeters at a time,” she said.

Rescuers then managed to get a harness to Brock, who tied it around his waste. Emergency crews used it to pull him from the hole.

“That was painful for him,” Holly Clark said. “He didn’t have a shirt on, only shorts, and they had to keep pulling him up. He was pretty scratched up.”

It took another hour and a half to drag him to the entrance of the narrow cave using the harness, she said.

“The whole left side of his body was not working,” she said.

She said the family has been overwhelmed by the kindness of rescue workers.

“Both Lynn and I are so grateful for all the search and rescue volunteers,” she said. “They never gave up, they were diligent and absolutely fabulous — to think they were so concerned about a teenage boy they don’t even know.”

Clark said she her son will probably explore the cave again, after he is recovered from his injuries.

“He’s quite adventurous,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back.”

Caleb Warnock can be reached at 344-2543 or cwarnock@heraldextra.com.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page C1.


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