Ropes, hypothermia cited in Ga. cave deaths - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Ropes, hypothermia cited in Ga. cave deaths

LaFAYETTE, Ga. (AP) - Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson says rescue workers believe that two University of Florida students who died in a north Georgia cave were trapped by their rappelling ropes in a frigid waterfall.

Wilson says the two, 20-year-old Grant Lockenbach and 18-year-old Michael Pirie, apparently died of hypothermia in Ellison's Cave.

David Ashburn, director of Walker County Emergency Management, says Lockenbach, Pirie and eight other students from Gainesville, Fla., entered the cave Saturday morning to explore it.

Witnesses told officials that someone dropped a bag down a pit. They say Lockenbach rappelled down to retrieve the bag but got tangled in his ropes about 100 feet down and cold water poured over him.

They say Pirie went down to help but also got stuck. The bodies were recovered hours later.

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