College students die in caving accident - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

College students die in caving accident

WALKER COUNTY, GA (NBC) - Two University of Florida students died during a weekend trip to explore a cave in Georgia when they were separated from their group and became lost.

Grant Lockenbach, 20, of DeLand, FL, and Michael Pirie, 18, of Ocoee, FL, were part of a group of 10 friends who made the trip to Ellison's Cave.

Authorities said the two were on their own rappelling down a 120-foot drop, when Lockenbach dropped his backpack and got tangled in his rope as he went to get it.

Pirie, a more experienced climber, tried to rescue him, but the two weren't heard from again.

Walker County Emergency Management Director David Ashburn said the two men were in shorts and T-shirts and most likely died of hypothermia.

"Caving is something very serious," Ashburn said. "Hypothermia can happen in the middle of summer. When the temperature is 56 degrees in the cave, you can become hypothermic in July and die."

A University of Florida spokesman said, although all the friends were students, this was not a school trip.

Pirie was a freshman majoring in marketing and was a drummer in the university's marching band.

Lockenbach was in his senior sociology major and was president of the school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Pirie was also an FCA member.

Autopsies are being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

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