A 21-year-old student from Purdue University in Indiana died after he fell 200 feet while exploring a cave in Alabama over the weekend.
According to WHNT, Trever Louis Col fell 200 feet in Alabama’s Valhalla Cave in Jackson County on Saturday and died on impact. Col was reportedly traveling with a group of adventurous students who traveled hundreds of miles to explore the cave system.
“They’re all cavers,” Jackson County Sheriff Chuck Phillips told the news station. “They do this for fun and sport.”
The group had camped overnight and started their day off early to rappel down a 227-foot drop into the cave. As the group was descending into the cave, Col discovered he had a knot in his rope, and while he tried to fix his equipment, the rigging came loose and Col fell to his death, the sheriff’s office said.
“They were all going to go down in the cave and they were in the pit more-less a vertical drop,” Phillips added.
After the accident, the group had to travel over a mile to call for help.
Phillips said it took four hours for the Chattanooga Hamilton County Rescue Cave and Cliff Team, Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit, Scottsboro Rescue Squad, and Hollywood Fire to recover Col from the cave.
“We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of Trever and offer our condolences and support to his family and friends,” Dr. Katie Sermersheim, associate vice provost and dean of students at Purdue, said in a statement sent to PEOPLE.
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Col, of Austin, Texas, was a senior in mechanical engineering at the university and was set to graduate next year, according to his Facebook account.
The social media page also includes a collection of photographs of Col climbing various rock faces around the world. He was also an avid lacrosse player, pictures show.
A website for the Southeastern Cave Conservancy calls the Valhalla Cave Preserve “one of the finest pit caves in the southeastern United States,” known for “its beautiful 227-foot entrance pitch and over a mile of cave at the bottom.”