Nutty Putty tragedy: Rescuers relied on shared LDS faith, family stories

Crawling on her belly, Susie Motola inched her way through a cramped limestone tunnel that wound through the earth like the path of a worm.

The search and rescue team volunteer sweated in the 70-degree heat and stifling humidity, her clothes covered in soft brown clay. This unmapped passage of Utah County’s Nutty Putty cave was no wider than the opening of a washing machine, and Susie had ropes tied around her ankles so other rescuers could pull her out if she got stuck.

Twenty minutes passed before the beam of her headlamp fell upon a pair of navy-and-black running shoes sticking out of a narrow crevice at the tunnel’s end.

“Hi John, my name is Susie. How’s it going?”

The reply seemed to come from the other end of a long hallway.

“Hi, Susie, thanks for coming, but I really, really want to get out,” said 26-year-old John Jones.

He was trapped nearly upside down, his 6-foot, 200-pound body seemingly swallowed by the rock.

Above John, Susie’s slight, 5-foot-3-inch-tall frame was also encased. She couldn’t fully extend her arms and legs, but she was confident.

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