Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A 19-year-old Indiana University freshman is recovering after he was abandoned in a cave for three days.
Lukas Cavar, of Bloomington, was left behind during a "beginner's trip" to Sullivan Cave with the university's Caving Club on Sunday after he was separated from the group and locked inside the cave, the Indiana Daily Student reported.
The freshman became separated from half of the 12-person group during a difficult portion of the cave, but failed to meet up with the other group and discovered he'd been locked inside the cave upon returning to the entrance.
"I was very confused and pretty scared," Cavar said. "It took me a little while to wrangle my emotions and sort of approach things analytically, sensibly, to come up with a game plan to survive."
Cavar said he licked moisture off the walls and crumbs from the inside of Clif bar wrappers to survive while trapped inside the cave with no cellphone service.
"As soon as I noticed the droplets of water on the cave wall, it seemed pretty obvious what I had to do," he told Fox59.
Cavar's parents filed a missing person report after they texted him on Monday and he didn't reply.
After three days in the cave, Cavar saw a light coming in from outside and quickly rushed to the gate to find the Caving Club leader had arrived to unlock the gate and rescue him.
"The guy who locked me in the cave, who actually physically turned the lock, was the same guy who unlocked the cave and got me out, three days and three nights later," Cavar said.
The leader, a certified EMT, performed a routine medical exam and other members of the club brought Cavar food and warm clothes.
Once it was determined he was of sound health and mind, Cavar was allowed to return to his room on campus.
Club leaders wouldn't explain specifically how Cavar was left behind, describing the issue as a "sensitive legal matter."
"We have a series of rigorous protocols in place that are supposed to prevent situations like this, but they are only effective if followed," the club's president said. "We had a failure in our leadership to closely follow all of these safety procedures. The risk that our member was exposed to as a result of these failures is a vivid reminder of why we have protocols."
Since being rescued Cavar has returned to class and his job at the school's library.