HORSE CAVE, Ky. (WBKO) - Nineteen college students from Clemson University and four tour guides entered Hidden River Cave around 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning, but were trapped by floodwaters before they could leave.
"When you're 150 foot underground, you don't know what's going on and so we knew it was about 2 more hours before they were scheduled to come out. We knew by that time, it would be flooded," Hidden River Cave tour guide, David Morgan said.
A thunderstorm warning came through around 2:00 p.m. causing the water level to rise in the cave.
"They was saying it started raining real hard. It's torrential downpour, I mean, it's real heavy rain. So we knew how quick the cave would flood and how fast and everything. We knew we had to get back there and find them and tell them to come out," Morgan added.
The cavers were stranded in a part of the cave called “The Attic”, which has a higher ceiling.
The tour guides have a plan in place for emergencies like this.
"If it gets too high, where we can't get out, what we'll do is we will go to a higher ground in the cave and sit there and wait it out," Morgan said.
They stayed there until the water rose to a point where they decided to attempt to leave the cave.
Around 3:00 p.m. two Horse Cave Police Officers entered the cave to try and make contact with the stranded cavers when they met four individuals coming out.
By 4:30 p.m. all had been rescued from the cave without any injuries.
"I mean that's my friends down there, so we can't just leave them down there. We look out for everybody," Morgan added.
The tour guides were able to lead the groups to safety without rescue crews entering the cave.