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Monday, May 2, 2016

Man rescued from cave

Thursday, January 30, 2003

A Missouri man was rescued Jan. 23 after being trapped in a Melbourne cave for over three hours.

Tim McClain, 52, of Independence, Mo., was entangled in a vertical shaft after his ascenders jammed and ropes became faulty due to caked-on mud, said Calico Rock Fire Chief Justin Sanders.

Sanders said McClain and two companions, Joe Shumate of Vilonia and David Eoff of North Little Rock, were exploring in the cave located on Highway 9 South when McClain became trapped. McClain had attempted a vertical climb and was not trained in that area; his past climbing ventures were horizontal climbs, Sanders said.

"One of McClain's friends stayed with him to keep him calm while the other went to get help," Sanders said. Rescue workers were called in after McClain had been trapped for over an hour and his friends failed to extricate him.

Melbourne Fire Chief Mike Russell said the fire department responded to the scene and called in Calico Rock's Search and Rescue Team because their crew is trained in cave rescues.

Russell said he also notified the Marion County Cave Rescue Team to be on standby in case additional help was needed.

Four firemen went down in the cave -- Justin Sanders and Gabe Sanders from Calico Rock, Robert Hardgrave of Melbourne and Ben Mayer from Fox Fire Department.

After two hours rescue workers freed McClain and hauled him out of the 80-foot vertical shaft with ropes. McClain was 300 feet down in the cave. Firemen tied safety lines and rigged up a system to keep him from slipping. "He was cold, tired, wet and happy to see us," Sanders said.

Russell said the three men claimed they were certified spelunkers and certified repellers.

Calico Rock and Pineville firemen responded to a structure fire at 1:10 p.m. Jan. 27 at 701 Center Street in Calico Rock.

When firemen arrived at the scene the house was fully engulfed in flames, said Sanders. The home was owned by J.J. Carroll but a family member, Ronnie Mooney, resided in the home.

At the time of the blaze a friend, George Tunnicliff, was sleeping on the couch and smelled the smoke.

Tunnicliff escaped the blaze with singed hair, said Sanders. The origin of the fire was in the living room but the cause is not yet determined. The fire is under investigation, Sanders said.

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