Five tourists were rescued early Tuesday after being stranded in Grand Canyon Caverns approximately 200 feet underground for more than 26 hours. Photo by Scotwriter21/Wikimedia Commons
Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Five tourists were in Grand Canyon Caverns for more than 26 hours after the elevator used to exit the caverns stopped working.
No injuries were reported as the last of the tourists was hoisted out of the caverns early Tuesday after more than five people were in the caverns when the elevator stopped working.
Jon Paxton, spokesperson and community programs planner for the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, said the issue with the elevator was initially thought to be electrical so a generator was brought in but was later determined to be a mechanical issue.
It was unclear how long repairs would take so a rescue crew was standing by to hoist the stranded tourists out of the caverns.
The caverns are accessible by about 21 flights of stairs and some were able to take the stairs out, including a woman who was visiting with a 5-month-old and 2-year-old daughter. She exited the caverns with her daughters after being stranded for 10 hours.
Paxton, however, said some of the tourists were not physically capable of trekking up the stairs. At least two of the tourists were in their 70s.
One of the families involved said they will take legal action against Grand Canyon Caverns. They allege they were not provided food until several hours after being trapped in the caverns.
"The Cavern put the people up in a motel, and there is a small restaurant at the bottom, and the motel is working to make the people as comfortable as possible while they are down there," Paxton said.
The caverns are an estimated 200 feet underground. The approximately 65-million-year-old natural void is now outfitted with bunk houses, suites and other amenities. Tours are offered daily, including ghost tours. There is also a wedding chapel located in the caverns.