Pa. man in critical after fall in Georgia cave

Dwight Kempf suffered skull and femur fractures after he fell 30 feet in Ellison's Cave.

  • The Lehigh County resident was walking on a horizontal passageway when he slipped.
  • It took an 80-person rescue team about 21 hours to haul him out of the cave.

A Pennsylvania man is in critical condition after he was rescued from a Georgia cave over the weekend.

Dwight Kempf suffered skull and femur fractures after he fell 30 feet in Ellison's Cave inside Pigeon Mountain, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. He was in critical but stable condition on Tuesday.

Kempf lives in Lehigh County, according to public records. He had rappelled the Fantastic Pit -- the deepest cave pit in the continental United States, at 586 feet -- and was walking on a a horizontal passageway when he slipped, Buddy Lane, assistant chief of the Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Service, told the Times Free Press.

Kempf was unconscious for more than 15 minutes. It took an 80-person rescue team about 21 hours to haul him out of the cave. Ellison's Cave is the 12th-deepest in the country.

In a statement to local media outlets, his wife said the fall in the Walker County, Ga., cave was a fluke and thanked rescue crews.

"We are extremely grateful for all of the teams, from near and far, who assisted with his rescue," Jill Kempf said. "I especially want to thank the group of cavers who were with my husband taking care of him before medical personnel arrived. This is an experienced group of cavers who consider every possible safety measure and have emergency plans in place before they begin."


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.