JACKSON COUNTY, TN (CNN/AP) - Authorities say an experienced diver who was reported missing in a Tennessee cave was found alive and rescued.
The Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Service posted on its Facebook page that the diver was brought out of the Gainesboro, TN, cave Wednesday night and was safe on the surface. Multiple rescue crews participated in the effort.
CNN identified the man as British cave diver Josh Bratchley, one of the divers who helped rescue 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand last year.
Bratchley was trapped for more than 24 hours in the underwater cave after he went missing Tuesday while he and four other experienced divers were exploring. The group called 911 early Wednesday morning.
“It was a better outcome than we could have ever dreamed of, to be honest with you," said Jackson County Emergency Management spokesman Derek Woolbright.
Edd Sorenson, a rescue diver from Florida, flew into Tennessee after an early morning call to help with the “highly technical rescue.” Once he reached the cave, it took him less than an hour to get to Bratchley, who was in a large air pocket in a dry suit.
“He looked like a snowman but of mud. He was head-to-toe mud. There was maybe a couple spots on his cheeks that were not covered in mud, and I mean covered," Sorenson said.
Authorities say Bratchley was in a good mental status as he waited to be rescued.
“He was awake, alert and oriented. His only request when he got to the surface was that he wanted some pizza," Woolbright said.
For his role in the Thai cave rescue, Bratchley was honored with a Member of the Order of the British Empire award in January.