After a lengthy effort, a 15-year-old boy was rescued late Saturday night after he became trapped in the wind caves off Bridge Valley Road in Martic Township.
The youth was freed shortly before midnight, a county dispatcher confirmed.
The entrapment was reported shortly after 5:30 p.m. The boy, who was part of a group of youths and adults accompanied by a cave guide, was about 200 feet into the caves when he got wedged in and could not free himself.
Numerous fire and emergency rescue companies responded from York and Lancaster counties, as well as specialized rescue task forces from both counties. Adults from the boy's group stayed with him in the caves until emergency personnel reached him.
Spokesman Tony Williams of Rawlinsville Fire Co. estimated more than 60 personnel were involved in the effort.
About two dozen fire apparatus and other emergency vehicles were parked along Bridge Valley Road and at the Pequea boat launch.
The boy was alert during the rescue, and there was no indication he was injured, Williams said. Hypothermia was rescuers' principal concern; heating pads were used to keep him warm.
Personnel on the scene consulted with Lancaster General Hospital as the rescue progressed.
Rescuers had to work slowly and meticulously to free the boy without risking injury to him, Williams said.
The effort was complicated by the winter weather and the length rescuers had to travel through mud and snow. Even in good weather, it takes around 20 minutes to travel from Bridge Valley Road to the cave entrance, Williams said,
It took about 45 minutes to transport the boy to the cave entrance after he was extricated, Williams said.
He was examined by a doctor, then taken to a hospital for a full evaluation.
The youth's name was not disclosed. His father was on the scene, but declined to speak to the media.
The wind caves are natural formations that reach back hundreds of feet.
They reportedly are among the largest tectonic caves in the eastern U.S. Tectonic caves are formed when masses of bedrock are pulled apart along joints or fissures.