Thomas Summers III

Web Posted: Tuesday, 05/01/2007 10:53 AM CDT

'Cave Without a Name' closed after fatal accident

By Zeke MacCormack
SA Express-News Staff Writer

The Cave Without a Name was closed indefinitely Tuesday a day after its general manager, Thomas Summers III, died in a nearby cave.

Summers entered the neighboring cave -- a smaller one called Dead Man's Cave -- to investigate whether an obstruction was slowing the flow of water from Cave Without a Name, a tourist attraction in Kendall County, according to Mike Burrell, its caretaker.

"It's going to be a while" before the commercial cave reopens, Burrell said . "We're kind of upset here."

Justice of the Peace Jerry Collins said Summers, 44, had drowned.

At about 2 p.m. Monday, Summers and Brent Holbert, a tour guide, decided to enter Dead Man's Cave, into which water drains from the larger cave, to see if something was blocking the outflow of water, Burrell said. The smaller cave is located on Summers' property.

They were about 400 yards into the cave when the two separated. They swam into the cave to a point where there was only a few inches of overhead clearance, at which time Summers advanced and Holbert declined to go any further, Burrell said.

Authorities were called after Holbert reported hearing "sputtering" from the direction in which Summers had swum, then no response when he called Summers.

Burrell said regular tours were unaffected by the recent rain- caused rise of water in the Cave Without A Name, but the high water did preclude any "wild tours" into remote reaches of the cave by spelunkers. Summers was the son of the cave's owner, he said.

Summers' body was recovered by a specialist in cave dives who was summoned from Austin after local rescuers decided it was too dangerous to follow Summer's path into the cave. The body was removed about 9:15 p.m. Monday, the Kendall County Sheriff's Department said.