Rescuers Pull 24-Year-Old Man from Cave. Found Beaten with 2 Broken Arms, Broken Pelvis


When Zachary Felton and three of his friends decided to take a small detour on their road trip, they had no idea what was in store.

They read about Little Bushcreek Cave near Dinosaur National Monument and wanted to explore.

None of them had any caving or climbing experience, but the group of friends wanted an adventure in the longest cave in Utah.

As they were climbing back out of the cave, Felton fell 50 to 100 feet down a shaft.

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In order to get reception, one of the friends had to free climb out of the cave to call 911. Authorities predict that the climb took about an hour.

Jeremy Raymond and Shane Daybell of Uintah County Sheriff’s Department and their Search and Rescue team were the first to respond.

It was difficult to find the three still trapped inside, but Raymond and Daybell located Felton’s two friends by the smell of the woman’s perfume.

The two had no injuries, but were in shock and dehydrated. Raymond took the two friends to the entrance of the cave while Daybell continued to make his way to Felton.

Daybell quickly realized that his rope was too short to successfully reach Felton. Instead of leaving him there alone, Daybell stayed with Felton and talked to him until more help was able to come.

He had multiple broken bones, some of which were open wounds. He’d taken quite the pummeling on his way down, and was beaten, bruised, and broken.

Raymond led help from Wasatch County down a 100-foot shaft to where Daybell and Felton were talking. Felton was then carefully escorted out of the cave.

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Due to the nature of the cave, the process of getting Felton to the entrance was difficult. The rescuers had to ask Felton to stand and squeeze through tight spaces despite his multiple, severe injuries.

His father recounted the event, detailing the extensive wounds his son had to cope with: “He had compound fractures on both his wrists, and his bones were sticking out of both his wrists and both of his elbows. And he had a broken ankle, broken pelvis, and a brain bleed at that time. He had to stand up and (walk through).”

The entire rescue took 12 hours, but Felton is currently recovering in the ICU. He has had multiple surgeries since the fall. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family cover medical costs.

According to the account, “The extent of his injuries is horrific, and it is a miracle that he is alive. His road to recovery is expected to be long and painful.”

Felton’s father is extremely grateful for all involved in the miraculous rescue of his son. He just wants everyone to recognize just how selfless and humble these heroes truly are!

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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