San Antonio firefighters work to extract a student trapped in Robber Baron Cave.
San Antonio firefighters work to extract a student trapped in Robber Baron Cave. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

An 18-year-old student spent 10 hours trapped in Robber Baron Cave before being rescued by the San Antonio Fire Department late Thursday night.

Rescue personnel freed the student, whose name was not released, around 11:45 p.m. after hours of chipping away at a rock formation 350 feet into the cave where she became stuck at approximately 1:40 p.m. Thursday, public information officer Joe Arrington said.

Local caving experts were guiding the student and her classmates from Robert E. Lee High School on a tour of the cave south of the intersection of Nacogdoches Road and Loop 410, Hood said.

Thursday was the third day of class trips into the cave, managed by the Texas Cave Management Association. The cave, which was once a speakeasy and a tourist attraction, sees thousands of visitors each year on its popular open house days.

The cavers tried to extricate her before calling the fire department, Chief Charles Hood said. The cave is well-mapped and firefighters use it for search-and-rescue training.

Rescue personnel ventilated the cave with clean air and making sure the student had food, water, and adequate warmth, Hood said.

“As we are chipping away this rock, we are dealing with very tough limestone,” Hood said earlier Thursday night in a news conference livestreamed by KSAT 12.

“We’re fighting with mother nature right now. We’re continuing to chisel up and chisel away,” he said.

San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood gives an update on the extraction at Robber Baron cave.
San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood gives an update on the extraction at Robber Baron cave. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Hood said that despite her ordeal, the student remains “in good spirits,” with her family waiting outside the cave entrance.

“She is a trouper,” he said. “I don’t know if I could be in a situation like that without absolutely losing it.”

The student was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center, Arrington said.

Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is the San Antonio Report's environment and energy reporter.