Trapped hiker's body to be entombed in cave

SPANISH FORK, Utah — The popular Utah cave where a 26-year-old medical student died earlier in the week will be closed permanently and his body will not be removed, state and county officials said Friday.

Any effort to recover John Jones' body from the cramped underground chute where he became stuck with his head at an angle below his feet Tuesday night would simply be too dangerous, they said.

"If we put other people in that same location, they could get stuck or get hurt," said Lt. John Valentine with Utah County search and rescue.

Jones, of Stansbury Park, died just before midnight Wednesday — about 28 hours after getting wedged into a tight, unmapped passage of Nutty Putty Cave, south of Salt Lake City. Workers had tried feverishly to free him from the underground chute about 100 feet below the surface and about 400 feet from the cave's entrance.

Jones was trapped headfirst in a vertical shaft about 18 inches wide and 10 inches high.

Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said Jones' exact cause of death will probably never be known but contributing factors likely included his inverted position for a prolonged period of time and the cave's cold temperatures.