For the second time this year and third in four years, a man fell to his death at Stephens Gap Cave near Paint Rock Saturday evening.
Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen, of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, said two men from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were rappelling when one of the men had an issue with his rope.
“He fell an estimated 100 feet,” said Harnen. “It’s just sad situation.”
The man was identified as Phillip Wayne Whitehead, 20, of Florida. Harnen said Whitehead and the other man were in the U.S. Army.
“They just came down here on an off day,” said Harnen. “The other guy was fairly experienced, but I’m not sure about [Whitehead].”
Harnen said the sheriff’s office, Highlands Medical Center, Scottsboro-Jackson County Rescue Squad, Limrock/Aspel Fire Department and the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit assisted in the accident.
In April, Juan Gerado Cruces, of Madison, was found dead in the cave after having been reported missing by family. In 2015, a Birmingham teenager was killed after falling while exploring the cave.