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MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Logan Eliasen spent 20 hours wedged in a cold, narrow passage deep underground at Maquoketa Caves State Park as rescuers worked in shifts, bringing fresh oxygen to the 20-year-old Port Byron man and to themselves.

Worried family and friends stood watch in a picnic shelter above ground, not far from the entrance to Wye Cave. After 3 p.m. Saturday, rescue workers talked to them, and the hugs provided the first indication that Eliasen was free and on his way to safety.

Through it all, Eliasen stayed strong.

Justin Jensen, rescue team manager for Iowa Task Force One, a search and rescue team based in Cedar Rapids, said Eliasen had become wedged between two rocks, but he remained in good spirits as firefighters worked to chip away at the rock and free him.

“I thought he did very well for the situation he was in and the amount of time he was down there,” Jensen said.

Jensen said, however, that Eliasen was “extremely fatigued.”

About 3:45 p.m., he was out of the cave, placed into an ambulance and whisked away to Jackson County Regional Health Center. Genesis Health System spokesman Craig Cooper said Eliasen was admitted and was in good condition Saturday night.

The ordeal began about 7 p.m. Friday when Eliasen, his friend Emma Thompson, 20, both of Port Byron, and others entered the cave.

Thompson said she and Eliasen are experienced cavers and have been to the Wye Cave at the park several times.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old. We’re familiar with this cave. We went into the cave, and Logan was ahead of me. I got stuck, and he went ahead and turned around to come back to me,” Thompson said Saturday afternoon while waiting for crews to free Eliasen.

“I was on my left side, and the cave kind of goes down. There are curves,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t maneuver. I was stuck. I was having panic attacks. I was shaking uncontrollably because it was cold. Logan took off his shirt and gave it to me. I could talk to him.

“He held my hand for emotional support. We prayed we’d be OK.”

She said some cavers behind her went for help when she got stuck. It took rescuers about four hours to get her free. They used air chisel drills to get her out.

She was taken to Jackson County Regional Health Center where she was treated for bruises and scratches.

Once Thompson was freed, Eliasen attempted to get out of the same cave, but his hips got stuck in what rescuers described as a manhole-sized cave that was at a 45-degree angle.

Maquoketa Fire Chief Mark Beck said rescuers began chipping away the rock around Eliasen to relieve the stress on his hips.

Eliasen’s father, Lonny, described his son as just over 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds.

Beck said Eliasen was in good spirits throughout the rescue effort. He and Thompson were given oxygen masks and water. Eliasen also was provided food throughout the ordeal.

The most difficult part of the rescue operation was keeping Eliasen and his rescuers supplied with fresh oxygen in the cave, Jensen said.

County Attorney Chris Raker, who also is a Maquoketa firefighter, said crews were working in one-hour shifts because of oxygen levels.

“It’s really strenuous, and we (needed) smaller people to go in there,” Beck said.

Maquoketa firefighters, who worked all night, were spelled by LaMotte, Bellevue and Preston fire department personnel early Saturday morning. The rescue team from Cedar Rapids and the Davenport Technical Rescue team also worked throughout the day. Trucks were lined up along the parking lot near one of the picnic areas adjacent to the Wye Cave.

Family members spent the day in a park shelter waiting for word about Eliasen. Lonny Eliasen said he had not been able to talk to his son throughout the day.

“But I’m told his spirits were good,” Lonny Eliasen said.

Both Eliasen and Thompson were honorees in the Quad-City Times Salute to Academics & Achievements two years ago when they were seniors at Riverdale High School.

Allen and Cindy Knott are neighbors of the Eliasens. They all attend Wildwood Church in East Moline.

A prayer chain was started at the church for Eliasen and Thompson and grew by leaps and bounds.

“We had so many people praying for him (Eliasen), and God got him out,” Cindy Knott said.

Allen Knott said he and his wife have known the Eliasens for about five years.

“He’s a super nice kid,” Allen Knott said of Logan.

Knott served as a substitute teacher for a while at Riverdale when Eliasen was in the eighth grade and said he was as nice a young man then as now.

“He’s a good Christian boy,” Cindy Knott added.

She said Eliasen is attending Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., now, and he plans to go to Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, to become a minister.

Meanwhile, Thompson told reporters it will take some time before she and Eliasen are ready to go caving again.

“I feel really beat up,” she said. “It might be awhile before we going caving in small spaces.”

(Steven Martens and Thomas Geyer contributed to this report.)

 


 

PREVIOUS STORY: MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Emma Thompson said it will be awhile before she and her friend Logan Eliasen go caving again.

The pair got stuck in a cave at the Maquoketa Caves State Park on Friday night.

Thompson was freed after about four hours, but it took crews from two states about 20 hours to get Eliasen out of the cave.

Thompson said she and Eliasen are experienced cavers and have been to the Wye Cave at the park several times.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old. We’re familiar with this cave. We went into the cave, and Logan was ahead of me. I got stuck, and he went ahead and turned around to come back to me,” Thompson said Saturday afternoon while waiting for crews to free Eliasen.

She said there were some cavers behind her, and they went for help when she got stuck. It took the team about four hours to get her free. Rescuers used air chisel drills to get her out.

“I was on my left side, and the cave kind of goes down. There are curves,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t maneuver. I was stuck. I was having panic attacks. I was shaking uncontrollably because it was cold. Logan took off his shirt and gave it to me. I could talk to him.

“He held my hand for emotional support. We prayed we’d be OK.”

Thompson was taken to Jackson County Regional Health center where she was treated for bruises and scratches.

“I feel really beat up,” she said. “It might be awhile before we going caving in small spaces.”

Once Thompson was freed, Eliasen attempted to get out of the same cave, but his hips got stuck in what rescuers described as a manhole-sized cave that was at a 45-degree angle.

One of the problems with the rescue effort was the lack of oxygen in the cave.

County Attorney Chris Raker, who also is a Maquoketa firefighter, said there was only 14 percent oxygen in the cave, and crews were working in one-hour shifts.

Maquoketa Fire Chief Mark Beck said rescuers began chipping away the rock around Eliasen to relieve the stress on his hips.

Eliasen’s father, Lonny, described his son as just over 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds.

Beck said Eliasen was in good spirits throughout the rescue effort. He and Thompson, were given oxygen masks and water. Eliasen also was provided food throughout the ordeal.

“It’s really strenuous, and we need smaller people to go in there,” Beck said.

Maquoketa firefighters, who worked all night, were spelled by LaMotte, Bellevue and Preston fire department personnel early Saturday morning. The Iowa Tech Team from Cedar Rapids and the Davenport Technical Rescue team also worked throughout the day. Trucks were lined up along the parking lot near one of the picnic areas adjacent to the Wye Cave.

The park remained open, but visitors were directed to other areas.

Family members spent the day in a park shelter waiting for word about Eliasen. Lonny Eliasen said he had not been able to talk to his son throughout the day.

“But I’m told his spirits were good,” Lonny Eliasen said.


PREVIOUS STORY: An Illinois man, stuck in a cave at Maquoketa Caves State Park for more than 20 hours, has been rescued, according to a news release issued at 3:47 p.m. by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The news release continues:

Logan Eliasen, 20, of Port Byron, Ill., was freed from the cave at approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday after being stuck in a narrow passage of the cave since approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday night.

A companion, Emma Thompson, 20, also of Port Byron, Ill., had also been stuck, but she was freed at approximately 11:40 p.m. Friday. She was treated at the scene and released.

Rescue workers from a number of different agencies throughout northeast Iowa worked continuously to free Eliasen, including chiseling rock to widen the passage. He was given oxygen and IV’s while in the cave to prevent dehydration.

Eliasen was taken by ambulance to Jackson County Regional Health Center.

Other park visitors discovered two people lodged in Wye Cave Friday night around 8 p.m. Eliasen and Thomsen became stuck while crawling through a narrow part of the cave.

The state park, four miles northwest of Maquoketa in Jackson County, features a variety of caves on its premises. Park goers are allowed to explore them, based on their ability and comfort level. Wye (pronounced Y) cave is about mid-distance between the popular Dance Hall Cave and the park campground.

Earlier:

 

MAQUOKETA, Iowa -- Reports from the scene say that the Port Byron man trapped in a cave for about 20 hours will be freed soon.

 

Earlier story:

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Rescue squads from two states are working to free a Port Byron, Ill., man who is wedged inside a cave at Maquoketa Caves State Park.

The 20-year-old man, whose father identified him as Logan Eliasen, has been stuck in the Wye Cave since 7 p.m. Friday. Maquoketa Rescue Squad was called at 8:28 p.m. Friday. They could not get him out. A woman who was with him also was trapped but got herself out with the help of the Rescue Squad just before midnight. She was treated and released from Jackson County Regional Health Center. She is identified as Emma Thompson, 20, of Port Byron.

Eliasen’s father said he is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He has been in the cave several times since he was 8 years old.

LaMotte, Bellevue and Preston Fire Departments were called in to help.

Fire Chief Mark Beck said the man was in good condition at noon today, but his hips are stuck in what’s described as a manhole-type cave. The trapped man also is very weak and cannot push himself up anymore, Beck said.

The Davenport Technical Rescue and the Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Urban Search and Rescue teams have been called in.

Beck said they will be using drills to chip away the rock around the man.

One of the major problems is the oxygen level in the cave. It’s very low at 14 percent. The oxygen needs to be more than 20 percent, according to firefighters. An oxygen tank has been put on the trapped man. Firefighters are able to work in the cave for about an hour because of the low oxygen levels.


EARLIER STORY

Times staff at 11:30 a.m.

Crews are still working to rescue a Port Byron man who remains trapped at the Maquoketa Caves State Park. Specialized rescue crews have been arriving at the scene through the night and still this morning.

A second unit from the Iowa Task Force based in Cedar Rapids arrived just before 11 a.m., and a third unit was expected to arrive soon after. Family members also arrived at the scene after 9 a.m.

Davenport Fire Rescue 1 arrived just before 11:30 a.m.


EARLIER STORY

Thomas Geyer at 11:46 p.m. Friday

 

Emergency crews from the Quad-Cities were on their way Friday night to Maquoketa Caves State Park to help in a cave rescue.

Units from the local Mutual Aid Box Alarm System or MABAS, including teams from the Moline Fire Department and the Rock Island Arsenal Fire Department, were called to the park northwest of Maquoketa, Iowa, before 11 p.m. to respond to a report of two people trapped. Later, the call went out for one person still trapped.

Moline fire officials confirmed they sent a team to the caves to help Maquoketa fire and rescue crews. Rescuers were to gather at the park’s campground.

The other MABAS teams who are sending personnel were staging late Friday at Moline Central Fire Station.

The caves at the park reopened to explorers in mid-April, after being closed for the past two years to reduce the spread of white nose syndrome, a fungus that kills bats in caves.

Before being allowed into any of the park’s caves, big or small, visitors must attend a short educational briefing about the fungus, answer screening questions about other cave visits and obtain a wristband to permit them to go into the caves.

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