A caver was thrown 50ft off a mountain ledge in the Brecon Beacons by a gust of wind and fell to his death. This set off an amazing chain of events which saw rescuers all over Britain come together to help him.

Some 250 cavers worked 12-hour shifts underground to get the man out the OgoffynnonDdu cave system. They navigated a maze of narrow passages that were as narrow as their shoulders, interspersed with rushing streams and waterfalls.

After 55 hours of work, the operation, which was believed to have been the longest stretcher transport in British history, ended last night at 7.45pm. The casualty, who is from Hampshire and in his 40s, was finally brought to the surface to be applauded and taken by ambulance to hospital.

According to reports, he was in good spirits, and will recover from the experience. He suffered a spinal injury and a fractured leg, including a complex fracture that broke both his fibula as well as his tibia. There were also broken collarbone and breast bones, as well as broken teeth, injuries to his mouth, and lacerations to his neck.

Here’s a story about how a caver that was suffering from severe illness was brought back to the surface. 


Saturday, 12.45pm

You can reach as far underground as 900ft 

At least 50ft falls the caver near Cwm Dwr’s entrance to the cave. The caver is said to have fallen off a ledge, before reaching for a rock to help him fall. 

He fell even more when the boulder gave in to his weight. The boulder landed on him, knocking him unconscious.

According to one rescuer, he was extremely fortunate to survive the fall. After being unconscious for just a moment, he was in intense pain and then he was able to get up.  

The injury he sustained was suspected to be spinal. He also suffered a fracture in his pelvis, which broke both his fibula as well as his tibia.   

A file photo of a drop near the section in the cave system where the caver fell and was seriously injured

Photo of the area where the cave collapsed.


Saturdays – approximately 1pm  

An additional caver joins the victim and informs police. Police then dispatch specialist rescuers to assist that very same day. 

He is not able to be moved by the rescuers who reach him in the caver. Aufgrund of the severity and extent of his injuries, it’s decided that he should not be moved from Cwn Dwr. 

It was decided that he would have to be stretched through another route to get to the top at Top Entrance, a mountain spot known for its caving attractions Marble Showers and Great Oxbow. 

Although there isn’t much standing water at the spot where the caver was found, the surrounding atmosphere is very cold. 

To keep him warm, blankets and heat pack should be used. Two of the rescue team are understood to be A&E consultants. 

The canula is attached to him and fluids and morphine are administered. He is described as in his 40s, from Hampshire, and had been staying in a £9-a-night cottage near the entrance to the caves. At 37 miles in length they are Britain’s third longest.   


A huge mobilisation effort begins which sees 250 specialist rescuers, fellow cavers and mountain rescue teams flock to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu to help with the rescue. 

South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team will lead the rescue effort. They previously saved 12 Thai soccer players and their coach in flooded caves back in July 2018.

Seven additional specialist teams are also available from the UK, as well as North Yorkshire and Essex to offer equipment and join us.  

Julian Carter, a member of the Cave Rescue Team said that they are familiar with how to deal with these types of situations.

According to another rescuer, “It will be slow but we believe we can get him out of this situation for medical treatment.”

“We believe that it will take him ten times as long to bring him back than to get there. It could be that it takes him 30 hours to get to the area where he is injured.

“It’s about safety and doing things correctly.

Seven other specialist teams travel from across the UK - as far away as North Yorkshire and Essex - to join in and offer their equipment. They are pictured near the entrance to the Ogof Ffynon Ddu caves

The seven other specialists teams are from all over the UK and come as far as North Yorkshire, Essex and Essex to offer their expertise. These men are seen near the Ogoffynon-Ddu caves.


Twelve-hour shifts are required to carry the caver along a spine board over a network of two-miles of narrow passages. 

After eight hours of underground crawling, one caver told The Times that it was like crawling underneath your dining room chairs. 

For their own good, rescuers kept treats in their helmets.

Rescuers are seen carrying the injured caver one a stretcher through the cave system yesterday evening

Yesterday night rescuers carried the caver injured in a stretcher across the cave system.

Rescue workers operated in shifts, passing the man on the stretcher through the cave system - which is the third longest in the UK

Shifts of rescue workers were used to pass the man in the stretcher along the cave system. It is also the longest underground passageway in the UK.

Teams winch heavily-sedated victims up rescue routes using ropes that are bolted to them. 

As teams transport the man through an active stream, a floating stretcher can be used. 

The rescuers described the victim as being in a “bad way” and said that he was ‘lucky enough to be here’. 

Up to 70 underground members are currently involved in 250 individuals. 


8.45pm Monday, November 8  

Altitude – 1,217 ft 

55 hours after rescue started, the victim is finally extracted from the cave. 

Rescuers cheer him on before he is helped to the cave rescue Land Rover and taken to an ambulance. 

According to the victim, he is a ‘good spirit’ with no life-threatening injuries. 

The caver was clapped and cheered by rescuers before being helped into a cave rescue Land Rover ready to be transported down to a waiting ambulance

Before being taken to the waiting ambulance, rescuers cheered and clapped the caver.

The operation, which has taken 57 hours and spanned three days, is the longest of its kind to be conducted in Wales

It took three days and took 57 hours to complete. 

Although mountain rescue is possible, thick fog, rain and wind mean that the man can’t be flown by helicopter to Morriston Hospital, Swansea. 

This operation took 57 hours, and was completed in three days.  

There are several South Wales Ambulance Service vehicles, along with a Hazardous Area Response Team who have been specially trained to respond to large-scale situations.

Rescuers have been supplied with oxygen cylinders for entry into caves. 

A rescuer said, “It was hard work. It was worth it to see him alive and out of danger. Knowing that there are cavers available to you to save your own life is a comforting thought.      

The operation, which has taken three days, is the longest of its kind to be conducted in Wales, with the man originally planned to be transported to hospital via air ambulance, but the wet weather meant the helicopter could not land. The man has instead been brought down from the cave entrance and is being transported to hospital by car

Three days of the most difficult operation in Wales has been completed. The original plan was for the man to be taken to hospital by an air ambulance. However, the weather prevented the helicopter from landing. Instead, the man was brought from the cave and transported by car to hospital.