Nutty Putty Cave Death: The Harrowing Details Of The Incident!

Nutty Putty Cave Death

Recently, a chilling video about the Nutty Putty Cave, Utah, is doing the rounds on YouTube. This CBG footage shows the hydrothermal cave as it looked in 2005. Back then, it was still one of the most popular hunts for the spelunkers. The narrow passageway, carved out of putty-like clay, was known for its winding turns! However, that was all before December 2009. Today, if you travel to that area, you will see a plaque commemorating John Edward Jones, the victim of the 

Nutty Putty Cave Death

So, who is this man who faced the worst possible death? Why was he there? What was so special about this cave? And how did he get trapped? This post brings you the fateful story in detail. 

What is the Nutty Putty Cave Death incident? 

For the unversed, John Edward Jones, a 26-year-old medical student, and a father, was caught in the cave, as he tried to discover the ‘Birth Canal’ passageway. Though he was an experienced caver, this one turned out to be a fateful one. He went in there with his brother Josh, never to come out again. 

As per the official narrative – John, while exploring the cave, got stuck in its winding passageway. During the 27 hours that he was stuck, rescuers tried to assist him in multiple ways. However, none of those worked. On the day of Thanksgiving, John passed away, leaving behind his family. 

After his death, as per the orders of the County Sheriff, the Nutty Putty Cave sealed entrance, and none was allowed in there. A plaque commemorating his death was put up. 

What happened on that fateful day? 

According to John Edward Jones’s brother, Josh – who had accompanied his brother for the Nutty Putty cave exploration – a few days before Thanksgiving on November 24, 2009, John was back from Virginia (he went to med school there) and wanted to catch up with his family. Hence, the brothers, with 9 of their friends decided to go exploring the cave. 

The group included seasoned cavers and some less experienced individuals as well. Their expedition started at 8 PM (local time) when the group decided to split into two – the younger individuals explored the more accessible parts of the cave, while the seasoned cavers went deeper. What looked like a simple caving expedition, soon turned into a harrowing experience – which we now refer to as the Nutty Putty Cave death episode. 

The Jones brothers had explored the largest section of the cave, The Big Slide, and wanted to go deeper. That is when they decided to check out one of the narrowest and most challenging cave routes – The Birth Canal. This restricted squeeze supposedly opened up into a cavernous area, tales of which were abound since their childhood. However, what the brothers mistakenly assumed to be The Birth Canal was an uncharted area called – Ed’s Push.

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Unfortunately, this was indeed a point of no return for John.

How did John get stuck? 

John, who was ahead of Josh kept pushing himself into the crevice opening. As he kept pushing forward, he saw a fissured rock, that he thought was the much talked about cavern. But unbeknownst to him, he slid his torso into the crevice side. In his attempt to breathe, he kept sliding into the hole and soon was stuck upside down in a 10×18-inch rock entrance! 

Though Josh located him soon enough, all he could see was his ‘feet sticking out.’ As he tried pulling his brother through it, he knew for a fact that there was no respite! 

Soon after, John was found by the first rescuer, a female by the name of Susie Motola. Motola later revealed that she found him at a 70-degree angle stuck upside down – a situation that was already dangerous. This was November 25, 2009, at 12:30 AM (local time). 

A brief of the operation to save him 

As soon as the concerned authorities were informed of a man being stuck in the cave, they sprung into action. Situations like this occurred before, and the assistants knew how to save the concerned cavers. But this episode was starkly different. Multiple brainstorming sessions were held, and various ways to approach this situation were mulled over. 

Over the next 24 hours, 137 rescue personnel made herculean efforts to save him. However, nothing worked in his favor. In fact, the pulley system that was installed could not bear its weight, and the cave walls collapsed. In the meantime, since he was stuck upside down, blood pooled up in his head.  

On the evening of November 25, 2009, after 27 hours of relief efforts, John passed away due to cardiac arrest. He left behind a grieving family, his pregnant wife, Emily, and a baby girl. Unfortunately, his remains could not be extricated from the cave. 

Why was the cave sealed? 

This Nutty Putty Cave death incident took a heavy toll not just on the Jones family but also on the rescuers. Many of the heroic volunteers were even traumatized by this accident. Nonetheless, during the safety efforts, when it became clear that John’s body also could not be retrieved, the Jones family and the landowner, with permission from the Office of the County Sheriff, closed the cave. 

The surrounding area was earmarked and filled up with concrete to create a natural memorial for John Edward Jones. Though cave explorers have made multiple Facebook petitions for its re-opening, the cave’s entrance remains closed forever. 

Since then, people have visited this natural grave and paid respects to the spirit of an adventurous man who dared to dream of exploring more! 

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Did any such incident happen before? 

For the unversed, this Nutty Putty Cave death incident was not a one-off accident. Situations like this had occurred before as well, leading to the temporary closure of this cave. 

As one of the most famous caves for spelunkers, from 1999-2004, close to 6 people were trapped in its harrowing pathways. However, all of them made it alive. The 2004 Boy Scouts incident was particularly perilous. 

According to the National Speleological Society’s Utah branch – Timpanogos Grotto, the cave was shut down for 3 years (2006-2009). When it re-opened in 2009, after multiple requests, the agreement was that it would allow only one group at a time. Also, the cave’s gates would be padlocked at night. The concerned party would pre-book the cave exploration. The Jones family had followed this procedure but faced a tragic scenario before Thanksgiving. 

What was so special about this cave? 

The Nutty Putty cave sealed entrance has given rise to multiple stories. However, there is no denying that this cave was once a spelunker’s paradise. What made it so special? Let us give you the details – 

The Nutty Putty Cave, discovered by Dale Greene in 1960, is hydrothermal. Located in the west of Utah Lake, Utah, US, this was one of the most popular destinations for amateur and professional cavers. Its zigzag pathways, made of brown clay formed the crux of its appeal. It is common knowledge that limestone caves have acidic groundwater that erodes portions of it over time. Taking that into account, this cave too was packed with tight squeezes and 3-dimensional passages. 

However, the ‘USP’ of the cave was – its triple pathways that were known by the names of – The Scout Eater, The Birth Canal, and The Helmet Eater. Unfortunately, John Jones Cave went ahead to explore this famed Birth Canal passageway, which led to his untimely death. 

Remembering him in today’s times 

While the Nutty Putty Cave Incident came as a huge shock to us, for Jones’ family, it was nothing short of a disaster! While the elder brother, Josh, could make it out of the cave, John was stuck in it. He passed away after a 27-hour struggle. 

Back in 2016, Isaac Halasima both produced and directed the feature film The Last Descent. The movie gave a near-perfect glimpse into John’s ordeal and his final hours (release date: September 16, 2016).

In recent times, author Daniel Turmoil has also reminisced about the Nutty Putty Cave death incident in his latest Kindle book – The Final Tomb. This tale narrates the days preceding the event and provides a detailed recall of the accident. Available on Amazon since February 7, 2024, this Kindle piece provides you with a more precise viewpoint on this tragedy. 

Parting thoughts 

Assuming you have read this post, you have a detailed idea about the Nutty Putty Cave death incident and how the world lost a lovely soul like John Edward Jones. Though previous attempts were made to reduce the flood of spelunkers to this cave, nothing worked out. However, after this tragic incident – the cave’s entrance was sealed, and it became a natural memorial. Today, people visit its remnants to recall the beauty of the past! 

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