The caver who was trapped underground for three days in Wales has been named as 38-year-old George Linnane.
Rescuers have told how Mr Linnane, who was named by local sources, showed “remarkable resilience and determination” during the three-day operation to free him after he became stranded in a deep cave system beneath the Brecon Beacons, in South Wales.
Mr Linnane, an engineer from south-west London, was pulled to the surface and taken to hospital on Monday night after one of the longest and most complex cave rescue operations the country has ever seen.
Despite suffering a broken leg when he fell from a ledge, the caver managed to convey his relief and gratitude at being back above ground.
Paul Taylor, a member of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, which led the operation, said: “As he was being stretchered from the mouth of the cave to a waiting ambulance, he managed to get a few words out. He said ‘I’m mighty relieved to be out of there.’
“Thank goodness he made it. He was exhausted, of course, and he’d broken his leg, so he wasn’t exactly jumping around and flapping his arms in the air, but he clearly felt that sense of relief.”
Mr Linnane suffered suspected spinal injuries, a compound fracture to his leg, breaking both his fibula and tibia, broken breast bone and collar bone as well as suffering a broken jaw, mouth injuries and lacerations to his neck.
Applause broke out among exhausted rescuers who formed a guard of honour as Mr Linnane, who was born in Cornwall, was lifted from one of the UK’s longest and most complex cave systems into a waiting Land Rover, shortly before 8pm on Monday.
In addition to his interest in caving, Mr Linnane is also a keen snowboarder, scuba diver and DJ.
Dr Brendan Sloan, a consultant in anaesthetics and intensive care for Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust who spent hours below ground assisting the caver, told The Telegraph: “He was conscious for the whole rescue, talking to us, responding to our questions.
“He was clearly anxious and keen to get out of there, but he was remarkably resilient and co-operative, which made it a lot easier. It required some very difficult maneuvering for the stretcher for a very long period and he was in quite a lot of pain throughout.”
Dr Sloan, who is also a doctor with the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team, added: “He is an experienced caver who was simply unlucky, stepping onto a boulder which moved and fell. It could have happened to any of us.”
Up to 250 crew worked in shifts for 56 hours to rescue Mr Linnane. He was transported to University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, where he continued to receive treatment on Tuesday night.
Mr Linnane fell while caving in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, a cave system near Penwyllt in the Brecon Beacons – his injuries leaving him unable to climb out.
He entered the Cwm Dŵr entrance on Saturday morning with friends and was planning to climb through the caves to the Top Entrance when disaster struck just before 2pm.