Woman Trapped Underground for 16 Hours in 12-Inch Gap

Hiker exploring California caves was rescued over the weekend
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Woman Spent 16 Hours Trapped in Cave in 1-Foot-Wide Gap
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Sebastian Sonnen)

A woman who went out on an adventure with friends in southern California on Saturday ended up wedged in a gap about a foot wide—for 16 hours. The group was exploring the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness in San Diego County when she got stuck about 100 feet underground in an area known as Thunder Canyon Cave, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Rescuers came from far away—the closest one was 40 miles from the site—and it then took them hours just to hike into the caves, an officer with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department says. Then they had to "inch their way into very narrow passages while slowly passing along their gear and equipment," he says. After reaching the woman around 9pm Saturday, they used blankets to keep her warm and "roping mechanisms" to extract her, and she was freed around 10am Sunday, NBC San Diego reports.

She was then airlifted by helicopter and treated for scrapes, bruises, and exhaustion. A member of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department's Technical Rescue Team explains the situation in which the woman found herself: "You find yourself stuck between a rock and hard place or two walls of the cave where it is so tight you can't even turn your head to the side," he says, adding that even the most experienced caver could have found themselves in such an unfortunate predicament: "It was a series of small mistakes, something any of us could have done." (More California stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.