My name is Gary Squire and I am a concerned citizen.
Recently a man lost his life in a popular cave just south west of Utah Lake. Commonly known as the Nutty Putty Cave it was discovered in 1960 by Dale Green. Its small geothermal structure soon became a known hot spot for beginner spelunkers from all over the valley. The cave, itself, has no natural wonders or beauties and is perfect for the first time inexperienced and unwitting spelunker who may permanently damage the delicate fauna and habitat of other more tempting caves. Although caving has its inherent risk due the nature of the sport this cave was one offering fewer difficulties and a more forgiving environment to would-be adventurers. With no vertical drops larger than 15 feet in height and many manageable passages this cave became a learner’s paradise. The nature of the topography and the limited ways of getting lost in the cave made it so a child could navigate and return home safely from a weekend trip. The slanted slope made it easy to find your way back. When you get lost you simply climb up hill and you reach the exit.
However the cave's popularity became its biggest weakness. One day something bad was going to happen. On a long enough time line everyone’s survival rate drops to zero as goes for caves as well. In this caves long 50 years of being known to the public there have only been 7 reported rescue efforts. Tragically the last ended with the loss of a life.
"I knowingly, freely, and voluntarily, for myself, my heirs, personal representatives, and assigns, WAIVE any right or cause of action, of any kind whatsoever, arising as a result of my visiting Nutty Putty and other School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (“SITLA”) owned caves, or the corresponding property, from which any liability may or could accrue to SITLA, its Executive Board agents, representatives and employees, the Timpanogos Grotto and its leadership and members, the Cave Management Team, and the Cave Access Manager, and assume all risks of injury to myself, including death by drowning, falling, exhaustion, entrapment, or other accident, and to my property, while participating in cave exploring or in any activities incidental thereto from the beginning of time up to and including the full extent of the time that I am on or within the bounds of their property."
We're the words read by John Jones as he signed a waiver permitting him access and use of the Nutty Putty Cave. The inherent dangers of spelunking are made clear in this opening paragraph of the waiver which all who wish access must sign before being permitted to enter. Even on beginner levels, navigating a cave can lead to tragedies.
After a more than 28 hour struggle John Jones passed away inside this cave. The family and friends mourned at a service held days after his death. I recall being struck by the news. Having visited the cave the previous Saturday these sad words stayed with me. I could not help feeling there was something I could have to help. But what happened cannot be changed. The family was forced with the decision to leave the remains of their beloved husband, son, and brother in this dark and ugly cave, forever to be remembered by a marker on an abandoned dusty road.
No man should have a cave as a grave. The family should be given the right to visit their loved one’s remains in a beautiful setting with trees and grass. To remember the joy and laughter they had together and not the pain and suffering of this horrible event. This is why I am writing to you and anyone who will be affected by the hasty decision to close the Nutty Putty Cave forever and leave a family to mourn on a lonely hill top. The remains of John Jones should be recovered the safest way possible. Not only for the many who will miss the joy of exploring this wonder of the earth but for the family as well. So they can know his body is at rest in a better place.
I propose an effort be made to return John Jones remains to his family and a closure to features in the Nutty Putty Cave which produce dangers such as this, mainly the Birth Canal (Bob's Push) and Ed's Push. These features do not add to the experience within the cave and do not harm the topography and access to other chambers within the Nutty Putty Cave. I also propose a stricter management for acquiring a permit be put into place to allow more prepared leaders to guide people through this cave. A Grotto member only entry may be another option to prevent such accidents from occurring allowing the cave to remain accessible to those who are prepared and knowledgeable of this its hazards.
The decision to leave the remains of a beloved family member inside of a dark and lonely place should not be made in haste. And I believe the permanent closure of the Nutty Putty Cave will not prevent any other accidents and unforeseen dangers from occurring elsewhere or even within close proximity to the entrance.
Thank you for your time in reading this. I will be willing to volunteer any of my time talent and efforts to removing the remains of John Jones and allowing his family to remember him in a place of beauty.
My deepest sympathies go out to the family.
-Gary Squire, a concerned citizen * firstname.lastname@example.org