Lukas Cavar, 19, visited Sullivan Cave last Sunday as part of a university field trip. When he took a detour in the cave, he became lost and was left behind by the rest of his party, locked inside the cave. After attempting to pick the padlock on the gate without success, the student survived in the cave for three days alone, by licking moisture from the walls.

Caving expedition goes wrong for Indiana University student

Cavar is a physics student and a member of the Indiana University Caving Club who took a field trip to Sullivan Cave in Springfield, Ind., on Sunday last week. While exploring the cave, Cavar made a detour in an attempt to avoid a portion of the cave which has been dubbed the “backbreaker,” due to its low ceiling.

However, instead of successfully detouring around the obstacle, he became lost after taking a wrong turn. The rest of the group eventually left the cave, locking the gate to the entrance behind them, with Cavar still inside.

Cavar told the Indiana Daily Student he had attempted to pick the padlock on the gate using a paper clip, but without success. Fearing he was going to die inside the cave, Cavar said he started writing goodbye messages to his family on his phone, but then made up his mind to come up with a plan to survive the experience. He said it took a while to calm his emotions and approach the situation analytically. Saying while he was still very confused and scared, he said he licked the moisture from the walls of the cave in an effort to quench his thirst and was also considering looking for insects as a source of food.

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Student screamed for help at the gate with no response

Nobody in the caving group had noticed Cavar was missing. As reported by the BBC, Cavar said he screamed for help at the gate after he found he could not get a cell phone signal, but no one heard him. Eventually his parents filed a missing persons report, leading to his rescue late on Tuesday, when the club’s president came and let him out after three days underground. After his rescue the student took to Facebook to let his followers know he was safe and saying how good it felt to be back on the surface.

Meanwhile the Indiana University Caving Club has issued a statement to admit there had been a failure in their leadership, where the strict safety protocols which were in place to prevent situations of this nature had not been followed. Club leaders are now working on changes to the safety protocols to ensure this never happens again.