Human InterestThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Croton Man Rescued from Turkish Cave Thankful to be Alive

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A Croton-on-Hudson man who was rescued from a Turkish cave eight days after experiencing debilitating medical issues has been discharged from a hospital overseas.

Mark Dickey, 40, a caving instructor and Chief of the New Jersey Initial Response Team (NJIRT), suffered intestinal problems that rapidly progressed into serious bleeding and vomiting Sept. 2 while 1,270 meters deep in the Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains.

“What the hell is going on? I don’t know, but I’ll probably be fine. I just had a lot of blood come out of me. I don’t know why,” Dickey told reporters last week. “In a few hours, it became apparent I wasn’t okay.”

On Sept. 3, the Cave Rescue Commission of Turkey (CRCT) was notified of Dickey’s predicament and first responder teams from Hungary, carrying fluids, reached Dickey Sept. 4 and gave him transfusions.

Dr. Tulga Sener, medical coordinator for the CRCT, said doctors determined Dickey was not in a condition to ascend the cave on his own and would need to be carried out on a stretcher through narrow passages.

That process began on Sept. 9 and ended on Sept. 12 with Dickey, who took periodical rests during which he was given fluids and treated by doctors, transported out of the cave and into a waiting helicopter.

“This was one of the most complex and successful operations in the history of cave rescue,” Sener said. “In total, around 200 people worked on the rescue at the basecamp and inside the cave while an additional 20 people worked on coordinating the effort in the background. Around 150 meters of meandering narrow passages were enlarged in controlled demolitions.”

Dickey, who was crawled up in a fetal position at times when his condition worsened before being rescued, said he was in such bad shape he couldn’t feel his pulse. While it hasn’t been revealed what caused his internal bleeding, Dickey was released from the hospital Sept. 16 and remains in Turkey.

“I am really blessed to be alive,” Dickey said. “It’s been a tough time. It’s been one hell of a crazy, crazy adventure.”

But despite his ordeal, Dickey has no plans to give up exploring caves.

“Caving is not inherently a dangerous sport, but you’re in a dangerous location,” he said. “The places that I go no other human has been before.”


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