September 21, 2008

Warnings Posted Before Fatal Utah Cave-In

Sheriff's deputies say warnings about possible cave-ins at a Utah desert park had been posted prior to the collapse that killed a 12-year-old boy.

Caleb Williams of Wellington was buried late Friday while he and some friends were digging a cave into a hill at the Little Sahara Recreation Area in Juab County.

Sheriff Alden Orme told the Desert News Sunday that warnings about the risk of digging tunnels were posted in the park and on the park's Web site.

The newspaper said the accident occurred while the adults in the group were cleaning up after dinner. The rescue was hampered by a lack of cell-phone service that forced one of the scout leaders to drive three miles to summon help.

The Salt Lake Tribune said the accident was the third significant cave-in in the past 10 years and the second to result in a fatality.

KLS-TV in Salt Lake City said Williams had burrowed about six feet into the side of the hill before it gave way.

"It was holding its shape, and then all of a sudden it collapsed around him," said Lisa Reid, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.