This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The mouth of Nutty Putty Cave was sealed with concrete Thursday, turning the cavern's 1,400 feet of chutes and tunnels into the final resting place of 26-year-old John Jones.
Jones became stuck in the Utah County cave Nov. 25 and died after a 27-hour effort by more than 135 rescuers to free him from a crevice.
The Utah County Public Works Department used explosives earlier this week to collapse part of the cave's ceiling, blocking an entrance deep inside near where Jones' body remains stuck, said John Andrews, the chief legal counsel and associate director for the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, which owns the property.
On Thursday, the throat of the narrow cave, a 7-foot deep, 30-inch wide hole, was filled with concrete, Andrews said. Sheriff Jim Tracy told Andrews that no other parts of the cave were damaged while the cave was sealed.
The closure of the cave is not physically irreversible, Andrews said, but there are no plans to revisit the decision to close it.
"It is permanently closed from our standpoint," he said.
Jones' body remains where he became stuck, in a thin finger of the cave near the end of the main passage about 100 feet below the surface and 400 feet from the entrance.
The Stansbury Park man entered the tight passage as he and a group of family and friends fanned out to explore the cave. He was trapped head first at a 70-degree angle, with much of his waist and torso pinched in a 10-inch-wide space, authorities said.
Rescuers briefly pulled the former Brigham Young University student from the crevice using a pulley system and ropes tied to his feet, but he slipped back into the tight space when an anchor broke free of the cave wall.
Jones was not injured in the second fall, but struggled to breathe about two hours later. When he fell silent, rescuers with medical training pushed a stethoscope in the crevice and could not find a pulse. Jones was pronounced dead at 11:57 p.m. He is thought to have died of the effects of the constant pressure on his body.
The popular cave, discovered by Dale Green in 1960, attracted up to 10,000 people a year, despite its remote access at the top of a hill west of State Road 68. It was named for its soft brown "nutty putty" clay.
There have been five high-profile rescues in the cave in the past 10 years, and it was closed temporarily in 2004 after two people got stuck in separate incidents within a week of each other.
Andrews said SITLA will work with Jones' family concerning any future memorial on the site. So far, no specific plans have been finalized.