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There are myriads of tourist and recreational sites across the globe, with many of them holding various kinds of interests as well as risks. This is exactly why recreation has taken many turns in the history of time; from thrilling and highly exciting, to fatal and grossly disastrous. The pathetic story of John Edward Jones counts among the numerous recreational outings that took the latter turn. Despite having occurred many years ago, the tragic event remains indelible, since it is consequential to the sealing of the Nutty Putty Cave with a caver (spelunker) inside.

The Truth About Nutty Putty Cave

Nutty Putty used to be one of the United States tourist attractions. The cave is located on Blowhole hill in Utah County, southwest of the popular Utah Lake, in the U.S state of Utah. Spelunker Dale Green was the first person to explore the hydrothermal cave after he discovered it in 1960. As the years went by, the site gradually grew popular, attracting about 5,000 spelunkers annually.

Meanwhile, the Nutty Putty cave has its numerous dangerous qualities. Green named it “Nutty Putty” due to the heaps of fine clay deposits that abound inside the cave, making its surfaces somewhat slippery and risky. With thousands of explorers visiting the cave year by year, it became even more slippery due to the smoothing caused by constant movement on its crust. Nutty Putty is also narrow, with many of its twists and turns perilously tight. This makes movement in it (which is only by crawling) significantly difficult. Moreover, the cave has only one entrance which increases its risk tendencies.

But amidst all these odds, visitors continued to flood Nutty Putty (mostly at night), with many not even aware of the precarious nature of their actions. With time, however, officials put regulations in place to ensure the safety of spelunkers. Precisely in 2006, safety officials began to drastically limit the number of visitors that enter the cave. They also tried to ensure that spelunkers take all required safety precautions.

Initial Closure

But considering its increasing chances of fatality, they temporarily closed on 24th May 2006. Before this time, the cave has recorded up to ten precarious rescues of cavers, with three occurring in 2004. On one of the occasions, it took fourteen hours and a series of pulley systems to get a 16-year-old boy out of a tight canal (the same place that eventually trapped Jones).

While the Nutty Putty remained closed, managers of the cave worked on establishing a proper regulatory process at the case. This was to enforce the meeting of safety requirements among spelunkers. On getting it ready early in 2009, they reopened the cave on the 18th of May.

Why the Nutty Putty Cave Is Sealed Up With One Spelunker Inside

An engraving of John Edward Jones at the sealed entrance of the Nutty Putty Cave Image Source

Just six months after Nutty Putty’s reopening, John Edward Jones alongside ten others comprising family and friends visited the cave. The group entered the cave on Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 around 8:00 pm. They embarked on the trip to have fun ahead of the year’s Thanksgiving which was a few days ahead.

Good to recall that John grew up with a passion for cave expedition alongside his younger brother, Joshua. His father had always taken them on spelunking expeditions. It, however, never occurred to John that he was then, much bigger than he used to be during those boyhood days. Had he known, he would have been warier when he began a crawl into a small passage he thought was Nutty Putty’s birth canal. Weighing 200 pounds and standing six feet at the time, John got stuck in the narrow inlet. By the time he realized his fatal mistake, it was already late. He could not wriggle back, and so he pressed forward. But it turned out the worst move as he stuck the more!

It was around 8:45 pm that his brother, Joshua found him. He pulled hard at his calves to get him out to no avail. Instead of achieving any bit of success, John slid further into the sloping passage. Josh rushed out of the cave to seek help. It took about an hour to receive a response; and for the 27 hours that followed, rescuers numbering over a hundred made frantic efforts to pull poor John out. Although they achieved considerable success using a system of pulleys, one of the machines failed at a dangerous point, throwing an almost-pulled-out Jones back into the tight crevice, and dashing all hopes of rescuing him.

Eventual Death

Unable to continue living in such perilous condition (especially in a head-down position), John was confirmed dead before 12:00 am on Thursday, November 26th, 2009. Born in 1983, John Edward Jones died at 26. Prior to his unfortunate death, he was a medical student at the University of Virginia. He left behind a pregnant wife and a 13-month old daughter with whom he had returned to his hometown of Utah to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Eventually unable to retrieve John’s remains, Nutty Putty managers with the agreement of his family, permanently sealed off the cave with concrete. The Nutty Putty Cave thus became John Edward Jones’ eternal resting place and memorial.

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