"It started for us with a call about people trapped in a cave on the river," said Rochester Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Dupra.
Three family members, a husband, wife and 24 year old daughter entered a cave while hiking along the Genesee Gorge geocaching. Heavy rain began to fall and water rushed into the cave, which acts as a drainage tunnel. "They said at its high point they were up to their waist in water and they were very concerned that they were going to be washed out of there," said Dupra.
From the location of the cave, Dupra said it would have been a 70 foot fall into the river. The family used a cell phone to call 911. High above, nervous onlookers watched the first responders. "Oh my God, I was thinking the worst," said Lillian Torres.
The Rochester Fire Department rope rescue team arrived shortly after 4:30. "I was first over the edge," said Greg Drew.
Drew, a nine year veteran, and Matt Sauers, a six year veteran, rappelled 40 feet to the cave entrance. The family was calm, but the terrain slippery. Each person was pulled up the embankment attached to a rope harness. "I went down and made contact with the three victims, prepared the first one, when Matt got down there she went with him while I prepared the second, she went with him and then once he was at the top I brought up the third," said Drew.
There were cheers as each family member was brought up safely. They thanked the rescue team, escaping the ordeal with only minor scrapes. Extensive training in the gorge helped make a difficult recovery go smoothly. "This was an all out operation where every company got to be a piece of the puzzle, so I think that was pretty gratifying," said Sauers.