Rescue in Lechuguilla Cave

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Date: June 30, 2014


 CARLSBAD, New Mexico - On the evening of Saturday, June 28, a National Park Service volunteer caving team entered Lechuguilla Cave inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The purpose was to perform re-rigging and replacement of 20-year-old ropes that park cavers use for exploration in the Boulder Falls area of Lechuguilla Cave. Shortly after the team descended into the cave, one of the members became ill. Heat exhaustion and dehydration were suspected which prompted volunteer team leader, Andy Armstrong to exit the cave and call for rescue assistance.  

A three-member rescue team responded: Carlsbad Caverns cave technicians Stan Allison and Shawn Thomas, and a caver/paramedic from Carlsbad Fire Department. They descended 180-feet into Lechuguilla Cave and administered intravenous fluids to the stricken caver, Carlsbad Caverns volunteer, J.L. Gomez. After he received three bags of IV fluid and rested for many hours, Gomez improved enough to make the 180-foot ascent out of the cave with limited help from the team. Gomez excited the cave at 5 p.m. on June 29. He was able to hike back to his vehicle with the other team members unassisted, and no further medical treatment was required.  

"We are relieved that the caver is OK and we are very proud of the team who came together to make this rescue a success," said Chuck Burton, acting superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns. "It's a good reminder for everyone to take precautions in the heat of the summer. We are very glad this had a good outcome."

Lechuguilla Cave is not open to the public, and is accessible only by researchers and scientific explorers. Carlsbad Caverns does offer ranger-guided tours inside Carlsbad Cavern. For more information on tours and tour times, please call 575/785-2232 or visit www/


 About the National Park Service, more than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 402 national properties and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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