(Reuters) - A 19-year-old Indiana University student was grateful to be alive after he was left behind by a college spelunking club and spent nearly three days locked in a cave without food or drinking water.
“I managed to get some water from the cave walls, by basically licking the moisture off the wall,” Lukas Cavar said in a telephone interview on Friday.
Cavar was on a beginner’s field trip to a cave south of the university’s main campus in Bloomington, Indiana. He said he was separated from his group on Sunday and found nearly three days later, curled in a ball and sleeping by the cave’s locked entrance.
“My biggest worry was not making it out alive,” Cavar said. “I was afraid I would never see my friends or family again.”
He had a headlamp and there was some sunlight in the cave. Cavar passed time by searching for water, talking to himself and sleeping.
University officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment. According to the Indiana Daily Student university newspaper, leaders of the school’s Caving Club would not comment on how Cavar became separated from the group.
When Cavar reached the cave’s gated entrance he found it padlocked. He yelled for hours, trying to attract the attention of people on a nearby road. His cellphone could not get a signal.
After a while, Cavar said people began to notice he was missing, including the person with whom he shared a ride to the cave and they organized a search.
By Tuesday night, Cavar’s parents had called the university and reported their son missing. A few hours later, a leader of the Caving Club rescued him, the university newspaper said.
Cavar did not seek medical treatment and returned to his dormitory room.
“The first thing I wanted to do was eat and drink and put on some warm clothes,” he said, adding that for now, he plans to give up spelunking.
Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler