Oct 25, 2022
Tourists trapped underground for hours at Grand Canyon Caverns Transcript
Five people touring the Grand Canyon Caverns over the weekend became stuck underground after the elevator that took them more than 200 feet down broke. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
First dramatic rescue at a popular tourist spot in Arizona. People trapped underground for hours, Grand Canyon Caverns.
Speaker 2 (00:09):
An elevator malfunction turned into a very scary situation. Ashley Paredez is with us now, and Ashley knew since six o’clock. You spoke with a mother who was just rescued.
Ashley Paredez (00:20):
Yeah, that’s right. That mother was one of eight family members who were stuck in the cave over the weekend, and one of three who had to be hoisted out tonight. The others were rescued last night.
You can see some of these search and rescue efforts here. The team using what they call a basket right there in the blue to get them up that elevator shaft.
Ashley Paredez (00:42):
This is the moment Sherry Jimenez was finally pulled out of the Grand Canyon Caverns, nearly 30 hours after she went down there.
They did everything so professionally, so safe.
Ashley Paredez (00:55):
The search and rescue team from Coconino County trying to comfort the family members on the way up, each taking about 25 minutes.
You’re kind of in a reclined position in a mesh seat, and I had gloves on and there was probably four or five metal cables going down the middle of the shaft.
Ashley Paredez (01:13):
This started out as a 45 minute tour for the family of eight on Sunday afternoon, but they say things turned chaotic after the elevator they went down in broke. The family tells of, staff urged them to walk up the 21 flights of stairs to get out, but the stairs are fire escape style, narrow and steep.
There was no protection from anybody slipping and falling into the shaft of that elevator.
Ashley Paredez (01:38):
The cavern has a suite at the bottom, an area that the family was offered to stay in, which had water, but Sherry’s daughter-in-law Felicia had her two babies with her.
I ran out of diapers for both of them and I ran out of formula, so we were like, “You have to let somebody go.”
Ashley Paredez (01:53):
That’s when Felicia’s husband Michael went up and called for help. After noticing nothing was being done on the elevator, Peach Springs Fire Department eventually came to the rescue.
Right when he got down there I said immediately, “I need to ask you this question. Did you get a call earlier and did you guys say that you refused?” And he was like, “I’ve been working all day since this morning and we have received no phone call from them.”
Ashley Paredez (02:14):
For many, the stairs were not an option since they have various disabilities and health conditions. Before going on the tour they say they made sure it was handicap accessible.
Should definitely be advanced by now. You have nothing for somebody in a wheelchair to get out.
Ashley Paredez (02:29):
The family says they won’t be going down into a cavern ever again.
The family goes on to say that they were given food, but that didn’t come until several hours later, that first meal.
They have just arrived back home to Kingman. They are very thankful, but they also say they’ll be taking legal action.
I reached out to Grand Canyon Caverns for comment, but did not hear back.