Two cavers who were reported as missing were found to be in safe condition Saturday afternoon.
According to Roy Sullivan, Cannon County 911 Director, the initial call was received at 1:10 a.m. about a Benjamin Saddler age 28 and a Jessica Haynes age 26 who were last seen at or around 6:00 a.m. the previous morning (5-6-11) going to explore Espy Cave off of Conley Road.
The complainant stated that she had gone to the cave and found their jackets at the mouth of the cave and Saddler's glasses about 10 feet inside the cave and found their car still parked on the roadway.
The complainant along with her parents went to the cave around 10 p.m. and went in about two miles and were unable to locate either of the missing persons. They did come in contact with several people coming out who stated they did not see anybody else in the cave.
They did observe what appeared to be a recent cave in and several rocks about a mile in, that had fallen which made their concern greater about their safety.
The complainant stated that Sadler had explored the cave several times in the past with no problems. Dispatch advised that rescue units were enroute and the caller stated that they would need ropes and equipment because there were numerous drop offs and was very slick inside the cave.
The Cannon County Rescue Squad along with Mooretown Fire Department was paged at 1:13 a.m. Saturday. Initial search efforts were unable to locate the missing persons in the cave and a county wide page was sent out for any available responders to assist in the search at 5:41 a.m.
Mutual aid was requested from the Hamilton County Rescue Squad to assist in searching the cave. A THP search helicopter was requested by Sheriff Darrell Young at 8:07 a.m. to search the surrounding area. Search dogs were also requested and were dispatched out of Rutherford County.
The pair was located at 12:35 p.m. and an EMS unit was dispatched to check their welfare, but both later refused transport. One of the searchers was transported for dehydration and heat exhaustion to the hospital for evaluation and later released.