Two Duncan cavers are recounting their extraordinary story of survival after becoming trapped in an Island cave for over 18 hours. The friends say the current rescue operation involving 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand is bringing the memories back in powerful waves.
The bond between two Duncan friends, Andrew Munoz and Jason Storie, was fused in a dark, wet cave.
“December 5th 2015,” said Andrew Munoz. “I’ll never forget it,”
On that date, searchers were preparing to find their bodies but instead of the two lost cavers alive.
“Many of the rescuers that day thought they were doing a body recovery,” said Munoz. “There were many people that were sure that we couldn’t have survived.”
“Not the sort of thing that happens to someone you know,” said Storie, a father of two.
Their ordeal and survival was all caught on Munoz’ helmet camera.
They had been three hours into an exploration of Cascade Cave outside Port Alberni with fellow cavers when a sudden rush of water with extraordinary force trapped Jason Storie between rocky plates as the water rose around him.
“At that point, I’m scared for sure,” said Munoz. “I know it’s really serious.”
The water seeping in from torrential winter rains was piling up and overtop of Storie.
Yet Munoz’s huge experience caving and paramedic skills helped free Storie until they found themselves trapped.
“What he’d been through was just as close to death as you can really get,” said Munoz.
The two effectively were cut off from their group by the water, so Munoz urged them to go for help. Munoz and Storie would spend 18 hours in the dark, frigid cave. They were soaked but thankfully equipped with a survival kit that included food and a camping stove as the exhausting wait for help became a minute-by-minute marathon.
Munoz began to fear he may never see his baby girl again.
“Seeing my daughter’s life projected without me.To think about that she would grow up without a dad, without ever even getting to know me.”
Storie and Munoz would escape the next day as water slowed down and rescuers met them. It’s a moment these men say they’ll never forget.
“Okay team subject is out of the hole,” the helmet cam video captured searchers saying on that fateful December day.