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Florida Family Survives Week Lost in Cave

June 24, 1990

FRANKLIN, W.Va. (AP) _ A man and two sons - lost in a cave without food, water or light for most of a week - were rescued Saturday, officials said.

Gary William Lutes, 37, and sons Gary Jr., 13, and Timothy, 9, of Tampa, Fla., were rescued at 2 a.m., then hospitalized for dehydration.

Lutes said the three became lost Monday when their lamps went out, leaving them in total darkness in New Trout Cave in Pendleton County in eastern West Virginia.

″We had been exploring for about an hour and a half, and we were supposed to have another half an hour,″ Lutes said in a telephone interview from Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va.

The three had left their pack with food and water on a side trail when their lamps started going out, said Lutes, who had explored caves for the past 20 years without becoming lost.

″We would have had to crawl on our hands and knees, and we could have gone in circles or in the wrong direction,″ Lutes said. ″We decided the best thing to do was sit down and wait for someone to find us.″

The search didn’t start until Thursday, when the three were to meet with family members in Powhatan, Va.

When they didn’t arrive, family members contacted authorities and local and regional cave explorers started looking for the Luteses.

Rescuers entered the cave late Friday and found the family’s pack at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

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