published Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Teen who died in Walker County cave rescue honored

A University of Florida student who died trying to save a fellow student in a Walker County cave in 2011 has been awarded a Carnegie Hero medal, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Michael Pirie, of Oviedo, Fla., 18 when he died, was awarded the medal posthumously Tuesday for his actions in Ellison's Cave near LaFayette on Feb. 12, 2011.

Pirie was among nine University of Florida students exploring the cave when someone dropped a bag down a 125-foot pit. Grant Lockenbach, 20, rappelled down to retrieve it, but got tangled in his ropes in a frigid waterfall about 100 feet down.

Pirie went down to help Lockenbach but both died, apparently from hypothermia, according to Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson.

The Carnegie Hero medals are awarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission to "individuals in the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others," the commission's website states.

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