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Sunday 25 February, 2024
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Brett Hemphill dead in Texas cave

BY Anas Shah Oct 11, 2023. 04:52 pm UPDATED: Oct 11, 2023. 04:52 pm

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During a trip within the Texas cave where he had established a world record a decade earlier, a well-known underwater cave researcher passed away last week.

Four days after going missing in the dangerous cavern, 56-year-old Brett Hemphill’s body was recovered from Phantom Springs Cave near Toyahvale on Sunday, according to a statement made by his company, Karst Underwater Research.

Hemphill went into the cave with the company’s director, Andy Pitkin, around 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday in order to investigate a possible new route in the intricate underwater labyrinth, which begins 450 feet below the surface.

Soon after starting their trek, the two were separated, and Hemphill never turned up again.

According to KUR, he was last seen on camera attaching a guideline onto a rock at a depth of 570 feet.

Hemphill’s own KUR colleagues found and recovered Hemphill’s body four days later from the cave system, though it’s not yet clear how the record-breaking diver lost his life.

“When we have got all the information and analyzed it, we will issue a statement about the incident that will answer everyone’s questions,” Pitkin said in a statement. “Until then, please allow us some time to come to terms with his loss, as up until now we have been focused on the recovery.”

According to Hemphill’s company biography, in 2008, he and the KUR team broke the record for the deepest underwater cave in the United States when they reached a depth of 407 feet in Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida. They later discovered that this spring is the deepest naturally formed spring in the nation.

Just five years later, when investigating Phantom Springs, Hemphill broke his own record. He discovered that the tunnel is the deepest underwater cave ever surveyed in the United States after reaching a depth of slightly more than 465 feet below the surface and 8,000 feet back.

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Since their discovery, the president of KUR and his staff have been doing study on Phantom Spring’s native species inside the complex cave system in collaboration with the Texas A&M University Marine Biology Department.

They found that there was a section of the underwater cave that was significantly deeper on one of their explorations.

Hemphill was the president of KUR, a renowned nonprofit organization that focused on deep underwater system exploration, mapping, and documentation in Florida, Texas, and Missouri, as well as abroad in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. KUR was founded in Florida and was well-known for its cave diving operations.

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