AUSTIN, Texas — A group of college students who didn’t emerge for more than a day from a cave they were exploring have been found safe, an emergency worker said Sunday.
The two women and one man were found in a 500-foot-long crawl space about the width of a sewer pipe, said Frank Urias, division commander of Austin-Travis County emergency medical services. They are expected to be pulled from the cave in a few hours.
“The victims are uninjured, our crews are safe; it doesn’t get any better than this,” Urias said.
The three University of Texas students had gone into a narrow passage near Austin called Airman’s Cave on Saturday morning and told friends to call for help if they weren’t back by midnight, said Austin Fire Department Lt. Matt Cox.
Crews had said earlier that four students were missing but now say there were only three.
Cox said he believes the students were found by a group of citizen cave explorers who came to help rescuers. Officials had said 14 people were searching, five of them private citizens.
Jarvis Brown, whose 20-year-old son, Jeff, was among those in the cave, said his son had been cave exploring before.
“We’re very elated, for sure, and thankful that God protected them,” said Brown, of San Antonio.
The names of the other students weren’t released.
Authorities didn’t have any details about what happened to the students but said it’s easy to become disoriented in the narrow, 12,000-foot-long cave.
The “keyhole” entrance to the cave, in a greenbelt area about five miles south of downtown, is less than 18 inches wide. Many places in the cave can be accessed only by crawling, authorities said.
During the search, rescuers found water bottles and cell phones apparently left behind by the students. Crews had left food, water and medical supplies throughout the cave.
Medical crews will evaluate the students after they leave the cave, officials said.
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