It was to be a Thanksgiving Holiday with family – a break from the rigors of Medical School. John Edward Jones along with his wife Emily and their 14 month old daughter made the trek from Virginia to Salt Lake City to be with family.

It was a Tuesday back home in Utah and John Jones, along with other family members and friends, headed to a rather barren hill just west of State Road 68 south of Salt Lake City. Every year 5000-10000 cavers visit Nutty Putty Cave. Most of the cave is safe, they say, but there are a few extreme parts. Professional cave crawlers give it an ‘intermediate’ rating.

Unmapped Route

Twenty six year old Jones along with family and friends

entered the cave. Some stayed in the safer areas that were like rooms while others explored more challenging parts. According to Jones’ younger brother Josh, Jones wondered if the cave went any further. He chose an unmapped route and crawled on his belly through narrow passages.

At approximately 400 feet in, it became clear at 9 o’clock in the evening that Jones had become stuck upside down in a very narrow 18inchX10inch crevice at a 70 degree angle. A good portion of his chest and abdomen were pinched in a 10inch wide space. Recreational adventures should not turn out this way. What a nightmare for this young husband and father who had plans to be a pediatric cardiologist! What a nightmare for his family and friends!

Rescue Team Arrives

The rescue team arrived with their equipment. Over 130 people were involved in the rescue operation. The team was able to get very close to Jones and stay very close to him for many hours as they performed their rescue maneuvers. A pulley was anchored to the ceiling of the cave. At one point during the 27 hour operation, with ropes around his feet, they pulled him free of that tight crevice.

Rescued for 30 Minutes

They gave him water and food but the apparent freedom only lasted for 30 minutes. The pulley system anchored in the ceiling broke loose and John Jones slipped back into the crevice head first again. For two hours he struggled to breathe. After relaying some messages to his family above, things became very quiet. The rescuers lowered a stethoscope but there was no pulse. After 27 hours of trying to rescue the young husband and father, he was pronounced dead at 11:57PM Wednesday evening.

Unable to Save Jones

The 137 rescuers were traumatized by their inability to save John Edward Jones. Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Hodgson said: “It isn’t in our makeup to leave anything undone. They still feel like there is work left to be done, that they didn’t bring closure to the Jones family.” He figured it was the most difficult rescue that he had worked on in 30 years.

The authorities, after discussing it with the Jones family, have decided to seal the cave forever. It is now the final resting place of a young man who was just starting his life.


You can remember Emily (his wife) and daughter Elizabeth and the rest of the family in your prayers. Emily is expecting their second child in June, 2010. You can search and make online donations to the John Jones Memorial Fund.

Four Spiritual Life Lessons from this story:

1. Spiritually, have you faced the fact that you are trapped in the dark crevice of your sins? The Bible teaches that we are trapped in our sins. “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast (tight) in the cords of his sin.” (Proverbs 5:22) Isaiah said our sins separate us from God and form an insurmountable barrier between us and God. (Isaiah 59:2)

Romans 3:23 says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” One of the Bible terms for your condition is: LOST (Luke 19:10). Another relevant term is: WITHOUT STRENGTH or HELPLESS (Romans 5:6). Your #1 NEED is to be freed from your sins, as sin will keep you away from God in this life and out of Heaven forever.

2. Spiritually, people make choices that lead them further from safety into zones of greater danger. Are your choices leading you closer to the truth and to God or further from the good news of Jesus Christ?

3. Spiritually, do you want to be rescued from the cave and trap of your sins or are you contented to live in your current ‘separated’ condition? John Jones wanted to be rescued. He wasn’t in denial of his predicament. Have you ever called out to be rescued? “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

4. Spiritually, there is One who is not only wanting to save you, He can save you – but He won’t do it against your own free-will. At the Nutty Putty Cave, the equation went like this: John Jones needed and wanted to be saved and there were those who desperately wanted to save him but tragically, in the end they were unable. Spiritually, Christ not only wants to save you and He is totally able to save you from your sins: the question remains – are you willing?

Jesus said of Himself:
The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

For when we were yet without strength,
in due time
Christ died for the ungodly.
(Romans 5:6)

“…After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy
He saved us…”
(Titus 3:4-5)



Picture Credits:

John and his wife Emily:

Nutty Putty Cave Map:


Jones and his daughter Elizabeth (Lizzy):

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