Five People Trapped 200-Feet Underground at Grand Canyon Caverns After Elevator Breaks Down

by Craig Garrett
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On Sunday, five people became stuck underground in a cave at the Grand Canyon Caverns when the elevator they were riding stopped working. Coconino County stated that a repair team is currently trying to establish the problem and how much time it will take to fix the elevator. There is also a search and rescue team on standby. This is in order to use a basket apparatus to hoist people out.

A family member of those still inside the cave said that, at 4 p.m. Monday, they were being rescued by the search and rescue team. The family said they had gone into the cave before noon Sunday for a 30-minute tour when they became trapped. The Grand Canyon Caverns are a popular tourist destination located along Route 66, about 100 miles west of Flagstaff. The main attraction is the chance to dine 21 stories underground inside the cave.

Some of those trapped are elderly

According to the CCSO, at least two of the five people stuck in the building are in their seventies. They are unable to walk up more than twenty stories’ worth of stairs. The staircase is reportedly difficult to climb, similar to a fire escape staircase. Family members say that one person could make the journey out but is choosing instead to stay with the group. When the elevator broke at Grand Canyon Caverns, everyone else was able to walk up the stairs to safety, ABC15 reports.

A mother was stuck for close to 10 hours with her two young daughters, aged 5 months and 2 years. Luckily, she was able to climb out by holding onto the railing as she walked up the stairs. The Peach Springs Fire Department assisted once they got out and were given a small amount of food and water. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported from anyone involved.

Grand Canyon Caverns were discovered by accident

Grand Canyon Caverns, located east of Peach Springs, Arizona, and 210 feet below ground level, are some of the largest dry caverns in the U.S. Out of all caverns worldwide, only 3% lack water—making them dry. As a result, stalagmites and stalactites are quite rare to see inside these types of caves.

In 1927, Walter Peck discovered the caverns by accident. After a failed attempt to find gold, he opened the caverns to tourists and began charging an admission of 25 cents, which included a view of a supposed caveman. However, in the 1960s it was revealed that the “caveman” was actually just the remains of two people who had died in the winter of 1917-1918.

Peck first named the caverns Yampai Caverns, although the name was later changed. From 1957-1962, they were called The Dinosaur Caverns but then renamed to The Grand Canyon Caverns in 1962. Interestingly, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, The U.S government designated these particular caverns as a fallout shelter that could support up to 2,000 people. Those supplies still remain down there today.