published Sunday, February 13th, 2011

2 University of Florida students die after rappelling in Walker County cave

Two University of Florida students were found dead in a Walker County cave Saturday night after friends called authorities asking for help.

The two males were rappelling in Ellison's Cave with eight friends -- three other males and five females -- when one called up for help after jumping down a drop, authorities said.

"The second one went down, they didn't hear any noise, so the others went for help," Walker County Coroner Dewayne Wilson said. "Looks like there was water down there, and they died of hypothermia."

The other eight contacted authorities about 2:30 p.m.

The official cause of death will be released after autopsies are performed, officials said.

Wilson said he is familiar with the more than 600-foot-deep cave, as people have been injured there before.

The cave is in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area off Georgia Highway 193 and is open to the public.

Ellison's is the 12th deepest cave in the U.S., and Walker County is among the top 10 caving destinations in the country.

Contact Carey O'Neil at or 423-757-6525.

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