VERNAL — A 20-year-old Utah County man was rescued from a Uintah County cave Saturday after he was struck in the head by a rock the size of a cantaloupe.
According to the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, the man was about 200 feet inside Toothbrush Cave with two friends, a 21-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman, when the rock fell about 50 feet and hit him in the back of the head.
The man was knocked temporarily unconscious, but he was awake for the three-hour rescue that followed. None of the friends was wearing helmets, authorities said.
Uintah County sheriff’s deputies, the sheriff’s search and rescue team, a Gold Cross Ambulance crew, and a Classic Air Medical helicopter and crew assisted with the rescue, according to a news release. The party called for help about 11:35 a.m., and the man emerged from the cave just before 3 p.m after authorities set up a high-angle rope system and pulled him from the cave in a basket.
He was transported by ambulance to Ashley Regional Medical Center in Vernal, where he was treated and released.
Uintah County Chief Deputy Brian Fletcher said it’s “pretty fortunate the man’s injuries were not more serious.” The department is not releasing the names of the man or his friends.
Toothbrush Cave is about 20 miles north of Vernal and just east of Little Brush Creek Cave, the release said.