TOWNSEND, Tenn., March 22 (UPI) -- Four missing cavers have been rescued cold and wet but unhurt in Tennessee's Great Smokey Mountains National Park, authorities say.
Park spokesman Kent Cave blamed a lack of training and proper equipment for the cavers becoming trapped in one of the park's cave systems, The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal said Saturday.
The cavers initially set off into the park Thursday night with the intent of returning five hours later. After they did not arrive as planned, they were reported missing and a search began Friday.
Cave said the cavers, who were led by a youth minister, were ultimately found cold but alive about 2 p.m. near the bottom of a cave with three major vertical drops. They were extracted about four hours later.
The four cavers were identified as Garry Blakesley, 24, of Maryville; his brother, Dustin Blakesley, 17; Dustin's high school friend Jake Layman, 17; and Chris Smith, 20, the Memphis News Sentinel reported Saturday. Dustin Blakesley and Layman are from Owasso, Okla. while Smith was said to be from Oklahoma, but it was unclear what town, the newspaper said.