Trapped Caver Mark Dickey Survives ‘Hell’ of an Ordeal

Mark Dickey has emerged from the Turkish cave that almost killed him after “one hell of a crazy, crazy adventure.”

Outlets worldwide reported live as rescuers removed a stretcher-bound Dickey from the mouth of Morca cave on Sept. 12. The 40-year-old caver had experienced an attack of internal stomach bleeding that marooned him 1,000 meters below the surface for days longer than planned.

Over 160 people participated in the elaborate and financially demanding rescue that followed, the United States’ National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC, where Dickey works as an instructor) reported. Teams from Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, Poland, and the U.S. joined the effort. Crowdfunding campaigns rallied tens of thousands of dollars in support.

Internal bleeding

Dickey’s fiancee, fellow caver and paramedic Jessica Van Ord, also aided in the rescue. She described his abdominal symptoms on Good Morning America.

“You always hear the term black tarry stool,” Van Ord told GMA’s Michael Strahan in a Wednesday interview. “When I saw it, I knew immediately we were dealing with internal bleeding. Mark needed to first get back to camp safely. Unfortunately, under his own power because we were just a small group at that time. We just had to keep our eyes on what was happening and make sure we were planning and acting appropriate.”

Teams completed Dickey’s extraction from the cave around 12:37 am local time on Tuesday, according to the Turkish Caving Federation.

The NCRC commented that it takes around 15 hours for a healthy, experienced caver to ascend to the surface from the camp where Dickey was injured (called “Camp Hope”). For Dickey, it took more than 50 hours.

Rescuers had prepared the passage extensively, working in a series of seven teams in a relay setup at varying depths. The groups established continuous communication lines from the surface down to Camp Hope, reinforced rigging, and even blasted tight passages to make sure Dickey’s stretcher could pass through.

As of Wednesday, Dickey remained hospitalized in the southern Turkish city of Mersin for further observation, ABC reported. Turkish authorities described his condition to the outlet as “good.”

“The global cooperation to get Mark out of this deep, deep cave is amazing,” NCRC National Coordinator Gretchen Baker said in a statement, describing the challenges as “extremely difficult.”

Dickey’s parents have widely expressed their relief and gratitude.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.