According to an inquest, a father died after being “compressed” for hours while trapped in the cave at a popular tourist attraction.
Carl O’Keeffe, 49, was playing with his children at a birthday party at Kong Adventure Center in the Lake District, Cumbria on April 22 when tragedy struck.
The Lancaster father of three fell and was trapped for four hours before finally being rescued.
Known as an experienced rock climber, Carl suffered horrific crush injuries and tragically died in hospital ten days later.
An inquest into the fatality revealed yesterday that he became seriously ill as he became stuck in the narrow tunnel before mountain rescue volunteers, caving experts and firefighters could reach him.
The Assistant Medical Examiner for Cumbria, Dr. Nicholas Shaw said: “Unfortunately, Mr O’Keeffe got stuck in a fiber optic tunnel at a cave experience center in Keswick.”
“And he couldn’t be taken out. It took several hours for special teams to get him out.”
“He became quite unwell and his body was compressed.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the critical care team, it was clear he would not recover and unfortunately palliative care was put in place at that point.”
The court heard that the adventure park staff tried to save Carl, but unfortunately they couldn’t.
His family recently paid tribute to the “devoted” father, who had a “brilliant mind”.
They said, “Carl was a devoted parent and he will leave a huge void in her life.”
“He was a strong advocate for the neurodiverse community.
“He taught people to learn what adjustments they needed in life and not just accept them, but live them.”
“He was often spotted wearing dark glasses and a fedora hat because he was photophobic.
“He had a brilliant mind and was about to apply for a PhD in astrophysics.
“He was fascinated by solar storms and had predicted in his sleep the storm that was happening this week.
“He spent years getting NASA’s Hubble photos tattooed on his arm.”
Sister Olivia Short previously added, “Today at 3pm I sat with Carl and said goodbye forever.”
“He was my little brother and became my best friend over the last few years.
“I loved him very much and we kept in touch on a daily basis, making puns and exchanging strange facts about nature.
“In addition, I was allowed to take turns spending the weekends with him and his children.
“I’ve been with him since his accident in Keswick on Saturday April 22nd. He was taken to the intensive care unit at Carlisle Hospital with crush injuries.
“It turned out that the injuries were serious and he would not survive.
“Then he was moved to a private room and I was able to stay with him so he could die with dignity.”
“I’m broken. As does the rest of our family.”
The investigation was suspended at a later date so that technical reports could be drawn up.