Lancaster caver dies after being crushed by falling rock

Gordon Aitken. Photo by Anthony Matthews.
Gordon Aitken. Photo by Anthony Matthews.

A Lancaster man was killed after being crushed by a falling boulder in a caving accident.

Keen caver Gordon Aitken, 50, died after large block of limestone rock weighing more than a ton fell on him.

Mr Aitken was exploring an 80 metre deep pothole at Bull Pot in Ingleton on Thursday when the tragedy occurred.

After abseiling around 65 metres down the pothole, he started to crawl along a passage when the rock fell onto him.

Rae Lonsdale, duty controller from the Cave Rescue Organisation which attended the accident, said: “The limestone measured around one metre and a half, by one metre, by half a metre, and weighs a considerable amount - well over a ton.

“Unfortunately, the caver was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, the rock dropped down, hit him on the back of his neck and killed him instantly.

“His caving companion tried to help, he felt for a pulse on the arm that was free, but when he realised there was nothing he could do he came out of the cave and called the police.

“This rock has been there for thousands of years, and hundreds of other people have crawled underneath it without anything happening before.

“It’s a tragic accident.

“These incidents are very rare. Usually we just deal with trips and slips. We have dealt with fatalities before, and it’s very distressing.”

Members of the voluntary Cave Rescue team were called to the incident by police, and used various techniques to free Mr Aitken, before removing him from the cave on a stretcher after the eight-hour operation.

The Visitor understands Mr Aitken’s funeral will be held on February 26.