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Trapped in a Cave: The story of Mr. Fancher and Tommy Jeffries

The incident occurred in the community of Sulphur Well, in Metcalfe County, KY. This time, the rescue was successful, One man paid a terrible price. The author, who was witness to the rescue and was a student of one of the men and a close friend, remembers this day.
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By Gary Lane

Thanks to Tom Chaney for the article about being trapped in the caves.

I was an eye witness to the rescue of Mr. Fancher.

He was the principal at Center High School when he was trapped.

The student with him was the late Tommy Jeffries from Center, a long time friend of mine.


Tommy and I went to school together for eight years at Center. He later became a chemistry professor at Campbellsville University where he taught until his retirement.

He and Mr. Fancher were exploring a cave near Sulphur Well. As they were leaving the cave, one of them decided to collect a stalactite from the ceiling with a hammer.

Rocks fell, trapping Mr. Fancher in a position with his knees against his chest. He was there for several hours before he was rescued. The accident caused permanent damage to his spinal chord. He spent the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair.

He had a brilliant mind and had the best penmanship I ever saw. I took a class in penmanship from him at Center school, but it never helped me to write any better.

The hole where they entered the cave was near a big white oak tree, prompting Mr. Wood Russell, a local man of one-liners, to say, "If a ground hog had come to that hole he would have gone up the tree before he would have gone in that hole."

I will always remember standing near the area while the rescue took place.

Dr. E.S. Dunham, a local doctor who birthed many of the people in Metcalfe county, including me, went into the cave to administer medication to Mr. Fancher.

Fancher continued his life in Center until his death. --Gary Lane


This story was posted on 2015-06-28 15:37:16
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