Rescued Caver Speaks Out

Mark Dickey is looking forward to getting back in a cave after harrowing ordeal in Turkey
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2023 8:44 AM CDT
Rescued Caver Speaks Out
American researcher Mark Dickey is carried on a stretcher after being pulled out of Morca cave near Anamur, south Turkey, early Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023.   (Mert Gokhan Koc/Dia Images via AP)

The American cave researcher rescued after becoming seriously ill while deep, deep underground is out of the hospital and hoping to return to caving soon, he tells NPR. "It's great to be above ground and mobile," 40-year-old Mark Dickey said in an interview from Ankara, Turkey. Doctors still don't know why Dickey began vomiting blood 3,000 feet below ground in Turkey's renowned Mora Cave, necessitating a difficult, days-long international rescue. But Dickey says the best guess is that it was unrelated to caving and hopes to receive medical clearance soon to return below ground.

"Caving is not inherently a dangerous sport," he told CBS News in another interview. "But it's a dangerous location." In both interviews, he and partner Jessica Van Ord, who happens to be a trained paramedic, say it was fortunate she was with him when he first became ill. "Technically I was the first rescuer on the scene," she tells CBS. "He was curled up in the fetal position and I could just feel his pain, and I didn't yet know that he was thinking that he was on the verge of death."

Van Ord got the word out about the need for a rescue and also helped tend to Dickey throughout the ordeal with IV fluids and blood sent down into the cave to keep him alive. It took 11 days for him to reach the surface, via stretcher. Dickey says he has no intention of giving up caving, describing it as "pushing human limits of exploration in the world that we know" and seeing things that have never been seen by humans. "I'm ready to go caving again." (More caves stories.)

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