A missing U.K. diver was found and rescued after diving deep into an underwater cave just east of Nashville.
The diver was identified as Josh Bratchley, one of the professional divers who helped rescue the trapped Thai soccer players last summer.
Bratchley traveled to the U.S. with a team of other British divers to explore the cave he was rescued from, the Mill Pond Cave. The cave is located in Gainesboro, just northeast of Nashville.
The crew had been exploring the cave for a few days already, and at the time of his disappearance they were all exploring the cave. It wasn’t until afterwards that they found him unaccounted for and then went searching for him themselves.
Despite their efforts, the other divers were unsuccessful and then called 911. The call came in at approximately 1:17am on Wednesday, nearly ten hours after Bratchley went missing the previous day. Trained divers didn’t enter the water until 6pm, but they managed to find and rescue him about an hour later.
Surviving in the cave
Bratchley went missing for over 24 hours, more then enough time for him to get lost and possibly drown. So how did he end up surviving through? Jackson County EMA Public Information Officer Derek Woolbright weighs in on the question.
“There had been previous mapping of the cave by Tennessee Tech University and there were some air pockets that had been identified, I believe, previously that the diver was aware of so it’s a very good possibility that he would seek that out once he found himself in distress.” he said.
With these air pockets and Bratchley’s knowledge of them, it would’ve been easy for him to survive down under. All he had to do was locate one of them and then he’d be able to breathe until rescue came to him.
Hamilton County Rescue Squad Lt. Brian Krebs said that there was something called an “airball” inside the cave. This “airball” is large enough for someone to climb completely inside and holds enough oxygen for someone to survive for more than 24 hours.
Bratchely was found at the “airball” at his time of rescue.
One diver who was part of the rescue commented on Bratchley’s state. Edd Sorenson, a diver called in from Florida, stated that he was completely awake and alert, not showing any negative signs at all.
“He said ‘Thank you, thank you. Who are you?'” Sorenson said. “We had a nice talk.”
“This was a really small, nasty cave.” said Sorenson. He’s lucky to have found Bratchley still alive. Sorenson says that most of these rescue missions have turned into recovery missions, especially after being lost for 24 hours.