The two 20-year-olds from Port Byron have been in the caves before. With the attractions back open this year, their group of friends joined the many flocking there to do some exploring. But Eliasen, a biblical studies and theology student, never expected the return to end up this way.
"I was slipping further and further down as I was trying to dislodge myself from the rock. And I ended up all the way on my side stuck in a crevice," said Eliasen.
After watching his friend stuck in the same tunnel for nearly four hours, Eliasen, while trying to following Thompson and rescuers out of the cave found himself in the same, scary situation. "I was really frightened and breathing really quickly."
Rescue crews already on scene worked to get him free. Minutes turned to hours in the cold, cramped space. "For a couple hours I was starting to get a little bit delusional. I was so thirsty and tired and cold," said Eliasen. Responders brought food, water, warm clothing and, most importantly, air down 300 feet into the cave.
Eliasen says he didn't have much concept of how much time was passing by. Only that each minute seemed to be more painful than the last. "My leg and one of my arms was falling asleep because I couldn't maneuver out and that was really scaring me. I didn't know how long it was going to be."
After 20 hours rescuers had chiseled the rocks jutting into his body away enough to pull him nearly out. Then crews themselves were running out of steam. "They switched out crews so there was a couple minutes where I was alone down there and I had nothing left so just collapsed on the ground," added Eliasen.
The last push that got him freed completely Eliasen says came from a higher power. "I just prayed that God would empower me to be able to get over that ledge. My strength was gone but I knew his was not. That's what pushed me through at the end."
Eliasen was thankful to see daylight. "I cried because it was just so powerful. It was so good to be free." And he says words can't describe how grateful he is to the dozens that put their own lives on the line to save his. "Everybody was so self-sacrificing that it just blows my mind."
Eliasen spent one night in the hospital for dehydration. Other than bumps and bruises he's in good shape. Emma Thompson walked away shaken up by in good condition.