Three Texas cave explorers rescued safely

by Jay Gray
NBC News

After a very tense weekend, three Texas college students were pulled to safety late Sunday night.

The group apparently got confused and then lost while exploring a cave in south Texas.

After more than a day-and-a-half underground, the three walked out of the cave, tired, dirty, a bit embarrassed, but ok.

"We kinda relied on the hope that we knew we'd receive, and it was great. Really great," said one of those rescued.

The University of Texas students, two women and a man, lowered into Airman's Cave Saturday morning just outside of Austin.

They told friends to call for help if they didn't make it back before midnight. They did not.

"We found a lot of personal effects that give us a strong indication that the cavers are still underground," said one of those called in to search for the missing.

The group, with very little spelunking experience, apparently got disoriented in the narrow, twisting, 12,000 foot cave.

They were found in a 500 foot-long crawl space, about the size of a sewer pipe.  They were located by a group of volunteer cave explorers who were there to help with the rescue effort.

For the friends and families of the amateur explorers it was the perfect end to what had been a very long and nervous wait.

Lyn Brown, a mother of one of those rescued said, "After I give him a big hug, I will smack him upside the head, and tell him not to do it again."

Their hope is that the group will find a little less adventure above ground.