Six people were rescued from the Grand Canyon Caves when an elevator that brought them 200 feet below ground broke, stranding them underground for about 24 hours.
The Grand Canyon Caves are a popular tourist attraction located near Peach Springs, Arizona.
The caves’ elevator broke down broke down between 7.30 and 8.30pm on Sunday night. Six people were stuck 21 stories below ground – a family of four with two young children, and another two adults.
One man was able to use a flight of emergency stairs to reach the surface, but the other five were unable to make the climb. After reaching the surface, he returned down the stairs to stay overnight with his partner.
Three fire departments from Seligman, Ash Fork, and Peach Springs all responded to the scene, as well as the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department.
The Sheriff’s Department directed the stranded people to stay overnight in an underground hotel suite located in the caves.
The Grand Canyon Caves Motel describes its Cavern Suite as the ‘largest, deepest, darkest, oldest, quietest motel room in the world.’ The motel typically charges $1,000 per night to stay in the suite.
The Sheriff’s Department first believed the elevator malfunction was due to an electrical problem, and tried to bring in a portable generator to get it up and running again.
When that didn’t work, a mountain rescue team devised a new plan. The team would strap the stranded people to harnesses and pull them up the elevator shaft with haul and belay ropes.
‘The members of the stranded party were raised up the elevator shaft via the technical rope rescue mechanical advantage system one at a time,’ the Sheriff’s Department stated. ‘Each raising operation took approximately 15 minutes to complete.’
The rescue was completed by about 6pm on Monday.
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