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Utah Nutty Putty Cave accident to be depicted in new film, 'The Last Descent'

The movie, 'The Last Descent,' will be released in theaters on Sept. 16, 2016.
The movie, 'The Last Descent,' will be released in theaters on Sept. 16, 2016.
YouTube screenshot

It has been nearly seven years since John Jones, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, entered Nutty Putty Cave in Utah County on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009. The tragic story of how the University of Virginia medical school student never emerged from the cave captured the hearts of people throughout the United States. One of those people was Isaac Halasima.

“After learning of John’s fight for survival, I knew I wanted to share his story,” Halasima said in a press release. “It’s important for others to understand the unforgettable strength and courage John exerted.”

On Sept. 16, 2016, a movie written and directed by Halasima telling Jones' story, “The Last Descent,” will be released in theaters.

“In 2009 John Jones climbed down into the Nutty Putty cave,” the movie trailer’s description reads. “In a passage 18 inches high and 10 inches wide, 150 feet below the surface, he got stuck. But his story doesn't begin or end in that cave.”

Jones, his wife, Emily, and 1-year-old daughter, Lizzie, were visiting Utah for Thanksgiving when the 27-year-old husband and father became stuck and, despite rescue efforts, passed away 27 hours later.

Following his passing, stories emerged of conversations rescue workers had with Jones throughout the rescue effort. The movie appears to focus on these conversations and Jones' example in the face of adversity.

Jones' relationship with his wife, Emily, is also highlighted in the film.

Emily Jones-Sanchez has since remarried and was featured by the Deseret News in 2014. She shared the things she had learned in the first five years following Jones' passing.

“I hadn’t always had an amazing testimony,” she said. “I’d had my fair share of doubts and struggles, but after my experiences after John’s death, I knew death wasn’t the end. I knew John was still out there. I thought: ‘OK. He has work to do and I need to figure out what I’m going to do.'”

Alexis Johnson, the actress playing the role of Emily Jones-Sanchez in the film, says she feels honored to play the role.

“When you’re telling a true story, there’s a sense of responsibility to get it right,” Johnson said. "It was truly a gift for me to play the role of such an amazing and strong woman, faced with a difficult journey.”

John Jones' legacy of faith and the faithful example of his family following his passing continues to live on.

In a statement released by his family on Thanksgiving Day 2009, Jones was remembered for "his good nature, delightful sense of humor, strong work ethic, a genuine love of people, a masterful ability to relate to children, a love of and unwavering faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and his commitment to his family as an amazing husband, father, son and brother."

"We'll never fully understand how or why it was John's time to leave us. But we find comfort knowing that he fulfilled his purpose here on Earth, and that we will be reunited with him again," the statement read. "Thank you, and God bless all of you on this Thanksgiving Day."

Read more about John Jones’ story:

Man trapped in Utah County's Nutty Putty Cave dies

Jones' life celebrated by family, friends

John Jones died in a cave, but his widow emerged from the darkness

Email: mjones@deseretdigital.com