20-year-old man injured after being hit by a falling rock inside Uintah County cave

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UINTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A 20-year-old man from Utah County had to be rescued Saturday after he was struck in the head by a falling rock inside a cave in Uintah County.

According to a press release issued by Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, a friend of victim called 911 about 11:35 a.m. to report the accident inside Toothbrush Cave, which is about 20 miles north of Vernal and just east of Little Brush Creek Cave.

Uintah County sheriff’s deputies, members of the sheriff’s search and rescue team, a Gold Cross Ambulance crew and a Classic Air Medical helicopter and crew all responded to the call.

Authorities were told the man, an 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were about 200 feet inside the cave when a rock was dislodged. The cantaloupe sized rock fell about 50 feet and hit the man in the back of the head.

The man was temporarily knocked unconscious but was awake by time his friend was able to get down to him.

Authorites said rescuers set up a high-angle rope system, then loaded the man into a basket. The entire rescue took nearly three hours.

The man was safely pulled from the cave shortly before 3 p.m. and transported by ground ambulance to Ashley Regional Medical Center in Vernal, where he was treated and released.

The three individuals involved in Saturday’s accident did have food and some caving equipment with them; however, authorities said none of them were wearing helmets.

“We’re pretty fortunate the man’s injuries were not more serious,” Uintah County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brian Fletcher said.

The names of the three people involved in Saturday’s accident are not being released.

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