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Injured Explorer Is Carried From Cave : Rescue: The woman is in good condition as she awaits surgery on her broken leg. More than 200 people helped bring her to the surface.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Emily Davis Mobley, rescued from the nation’s deepest cave in a four-day drama, was in good condition Thursday after her ordeal in Lechuguilla Cave.

The resident of Schoharie, N.Y., was resting in a hospital bed while waiting to have surgery on her broken left leg, according to Erin Connelly, a rescue spokeswoman at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Mobley, 40, was awake for 30 hours during the final stages of her evacuation, which culminated with her emergence from the cave about 12:15 a.m. PST Thursday.

She had been part of a five-person team surveying a new section of the cave Sunday when a rock handhold broke loose and smashed into her leg.

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Many of Mobley’s rescuers, fellow members of the Lechuguilla Cave Project, vowed to return to the cave today or Saturday to pick up where they left off when Mobley was injured. The group has been mapping the cave since it was discovered in 1986.

Mobley’s emergence from the cave entrance, situated on a limestone-studded ridge in the Guadalupe Mountains about four miles northwest of Carlsbad Caverns, was a triumphant ending to a tension-filled 91-hour underground struggle.

A half moon hung over the mountains, supplementing the light cast by the carbide lamps strapped to the rescuers’ helmets. Mobley, according to her fellow cavers, sang, “Are The Stars Out Tonight?” as she was handed up the final 75-foot pitch.

While she was being transferred to a gurney, well-wishers presented her with one of 31 pizzas that had been donated by local pizza restaurants. Throughout the rescue, the team in the cave with Mobley had joked that they wanted pizza and margaritas delivered underground.

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“Thank you very much,” a jubilant Mobley yelled to her rescuers. “Pizza’s good food for cavers.”

As she was loaded into the ambulance, Mobley was accompanied by Dr. Steve Mossberg, a physician and member of her survey party who remained at her side throughout the evacuation and had placed an inflatable splint on her leg.

Underground coordinators Jim Goodbar, a Bureau of Land Management employee, and Illinois farmer Don Coons told how they planned Mobley’s passage through the cave, which has been measured at 1,565 feet in depth and more than 55 miles in length.

At one point she had to be hauled up a 185-foot subterranean cliff, they said. At other times, rescuers had to kneel in narrow passageways and, resting her litter on their shoulders, pass her overhead hand-to-hand.

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Goodbar said Mobley set the pace, “And if she got tired, we stopped.”

More than 200 people took part in the operation, the deepest cave rescue in U.S. history. They included volunteers from the cave project and staff from the National Parks Service, the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, Connelly said. The rescue operation cost the government about $110,000, Connelly said.

Pat Seiser, a friend of Mobley, stayed by her side during the trip out.

“She’s quite a lady,” Seiser said. “I don’t know too many people who can direct their own rescue.”

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