The Tragic Death Of John Edward Jones At Nutty Putty Cave

Located 55 miles away from Salt Lake City, Nutty Putty Cave was once a popular spot for cave explorers, also known as spelunkers (via Museum Facts). According to How Stuff Works, the hydrothermal cave was discovered in 1960 by Dale Green. It was Green who named it "Nutty Putty," due to the peculiar clay-like substance that "oozed" from the cave's walls. Upon its unearthing, Nutty Putty Cave became a hit and hosted nearly 5,000 visitors a year. 

Six people got stuck in the cave known for its notorious narrow passages between 1999 and 2004. They were all safely rescued. Regardless, it was safety concerns that prompted a temporary closure of the cave in 2006. It reopened in 2009 but, sadly, tragedy struck. Per All That's Interesting, John Edward Jones, then 26, was an avid spelunker who headed to the cave with friends and family a few days before Thanksgiving. Cave Haven reports that Jones was a married medical student with one child who was just looking for a bit of fun and family time that day.

After exploring the cave for an hour, Jones decided to find a popular passageway aptly called the "birth canal." Jones went into what he believed was this passageway but instead, he became trapped in a space that was "10 inches across and 18 inches high" (per the Daily Herald). At six-feet-tall and 200 pounds, Jones was slim but by entering this space known as "Bob's Push," he had unknowingly doomed himself.

Nutty Putty Cave has been permanently sealed

According to All That's Interesting, Jones immediately became aware that he had gotten himself stuck. His brother Josh, attempted to pull him out to no avail. Instead, he left Nutty Putty Cave to get help. Cave Haven reports that shortly after, hundreds of rescuers arrived at the scene. They believed the best course of action was to use a "system of pulleys and ropes" to maneuver him out of Bob's Push. To make things worse, Jones was in an awkward position; he was upside down and rescuers could only see his feet.

This stance put his body under an immense amount of pressure. Jones could not breathe properly and alarmingly, his heart had to work much harder than normal due to his unusual, upside-down position. In other words, time was running out. Per Museum Facts, there was hope as the system was working. As pulling him out of the crevice was a painful process, rescuers would give Jones breaks. However, one of the pulleys broke, destroying all of the rescuers' progress and Jones went back into the "initial spot" he had been stuck in.

After being trapped for an excruciating 27 hours, John Edward Jones died from a heart attack on November 25, 2009. HowStuffWorks writes that it was deemed too dangerous to extract his remains. Thus, Nutty Putty Cave was permanently sealed shortly after Jones' death. A plaque commemorating his life can now be found at the cave's entrance.