Rescuers pulled out a citizen of the United States out of a cave that is Turkey’s third deepest after he was trapped in it for over a week.
Mark Dickey developed stomach problems in the Morca Cave on 2 September. Over 150 people made efforts to rescue him to safety. According to organizers, the rescue was one of the massive and most complicated underground rescue operation to have taken place.
The deepest point in the Morca Cave extends almost to 1.3km (0.8 miles) below ground, located in a remote part of the south.
According to a post on social media by the Turkish Caving Federation, Dickey was taken out of the cave around 21:37 local time (04:37 MUT). The caver had been saved, Dickey’s New Jersey Initial Response Team leader Carl Heitmeyer confirmed to BBC News, and he thanked everyone who had contributed to the rescue effort.
Dickey admitted that as his condition deteriorated, he began to doubt his ability to survive the event. Talking to reporters he said, “The only feeling that I think I have is this curve of ‘Will I live?’ It literally went through my head, I was like ‘This is a bell curve’. Like seriously, I’m insane that way. It’s like ‘This isn’t that serious, I’m not going to die’, this is ‘ok, like I’ve got some blood going on here but it’s bacterial, it’s an infection, whatever. Then I start throwing up blood and blood is coming out in more quantity that you’re going to live with if it keeps happening… I kept throwing up blood. Then my consciousness started to get harder to hold on to and I reached a point where I said, ‘I’m not going to live’.”
The “international caving community,” according to Dickey’s parents Debbie and Andy Dickey, “made it possible for Mark to leave Morca cave and receive further medical treatment at a hospital facility.” They described the rescue of their son as “indescribably relieving” and as bringing them “incredible joy.”’ They said, “Mark is strong and we believe in his strength, but fully knew that he was in dire need of tremendous and immediate support. Our prayers have been, and are, being answered and it is hard to express the magnitude of thanks we have for the international caving community.”
Dickey started experiencing gastrointestinal bleeding while co-leading a team to map a new path in the cave. He had a blood transfusion, which helped to improve his health. After that, he was brought out slowly while being strapped on a stretcher.
According to CBS, the BBC’s US partner, this required travelling through narrow rock tunnels, and explosives had to be deployed.
Rescue personnel from a number of other nations, notably Croatia and Hungary, flew to Turkey to help with the operation. Jessica Van Ord, Dickey’s fiancée, contributed as well. She later descended from the cave after staying in it with him when he was ill.
Dickey expressed gratitude on Thursday night in a video message inside the cave. “I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I need, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to the edge,” he said.
Rescuers called the experience to help save Dickey a “very honourable” one. A caver from Istanbul, Ibrahim Olcu, said, “We are cavers before everything. A caver does not have a rescuer other than another caver, we saw that a little. To work in the rescue operation for another caver was very honourable, pleasing. I am experiencing this happiness.”
Dickey, a native of New Jersey, is described as a seasoned caveman with more than 20 years of expertise.
He has spent ten years instructing various cave rescue courses for the US National Cave Rescue Commission. On the organization’s website, he is named as the International Exchange Programme Coordinator.
The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, who are also cooperating with the operation, stated that he has been co-leading the trip to the Morca Cave since the end of August.