|The Great White way in Norman Cave |
Photo by G.S. Springer
The college-aged men from the Keyser, W.Va., area went into the cave this weekend and haven't been seen since. Members of the Renick Volunteer Fire Department located the groups car by the main cave entrance of the cave.
Search crews estimate that the three men entered the main cave entrance in Renick around 5 p.m. on Saturday. Rescuers say it was the men's plan to travel the entire cave which stretches three miles from beginning to end on the main stretch of cave.
They planned on emerging from the cave in the early afternoon on Sunday, to return to Keyser by 5 p.m. that day. Parents of one man called 911 after no sign of the men late that night.
Twenty-Five men divided into five rescue teams have been participating in the search since 3 a.m. Monday. After nearly 16 hours of searching, the five search teams are being replaced by numerous volunteers fresh on the hunt.
Doug Moore, head of the search crew teams, says that additional crews are now being called in to help with the search. Hundreds of experienced spelunkers from across the two Virginias are traveling to Renick to help locate the men.
Officials say that additional and complex passage ways within the cave system stretches approximately 13 miles.Director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Team of Greenbrier County,Al Whitaker says it is an easy cave to get lost in.
A phone line has been established to provide communication with the surface. A command post has been set up at the Renick Volunteer Fire Department.
Experts say the cave temperature is around 52 degree's Fahrenheit, with heavy water flow in certain areas.
The condition of the men is unknown at this time. Search crews say their condition will depend on what elements of the cave they have been exposed to.
About the Bone-Norman Cave:
This cave system has two entrances and has approximately 14 miles of surveyed passage. The Bone section is a mostly dry cave with a few formations and lots of dry, dusty clay silt. The Norman section is an active cave with stream passages, waterfalls, and many beautiful formations. The two sections are connected by a very tight crawlway called the Devil's Pinch. There are three photos of this connection. Following the Devil's Pinch, after leaving the Bone section, is a long crawlway that has only a 12" to 20" high ceiling. We always called it the Quarter Mile Crawl...a real test of to see if you really want to explore this cave. Following the long crawl you enter a dry room and walkway in the Norman section that leads to the stream passage. The real journey begins.
A short video of a trip down this cave: