Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating after two subjects were rescued from Donnehue Cave earlier today.
At around 10:45 a.m., Indiana Conservation Officers and other responders were notified of a missing person search, and that the person in question may have entered into the Doghill-Donnehue Cave system in Bedford.
The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department had initiated a search for Joshua Patton (31) of Bedford, after family members were unable to make contact since Tuesday evening.
Patton had told family members that he had planned on entering the Cave.
Indiana Conservation Officers, along with several other trained cave rescue responders, entered the Cave at around 11:50 a.m., and conducted a search of both the upper “maze” portion of the Cave, as well as the lower stream passage.
At 12:05 p.m., the responders made verbal contact with Patton, and to their surprise, a female subject with him, Samantha East (38), also of Bedford. They were located approximately 2000 feet inside the Cave.
Patton advised responders that the two had entered the Cave at around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday the 29th, using only a cell phone light to negotiate the Cave’s passages.
After damaging the phone and losing their light source, Patton and East attempted to use cigarette lighters to exit the Cave, until their fuel was exhausted. The two then stopped and waited in the total darkness.
Patton and East were treated inside the Cave for hypothermia, dehydration, and exhaustion.
They were assisted from the Cave and transported to IU Health in Bedford for further evaluation.
Assisting agencies on scene were Bedford Police Department, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, and AMR Ambulance Service of Bedford. Local cave rescue responders from Bedford and Bloomington were invaluable for their knowledge and experience with the Cave system.