American caver's partner speaks out about Mark Dickey's health after dramatic rescue

Dickey was trapped thousands of feet underground in Turkey for 12 days.

September 13, 2023, 7:55 AM

LONDON -- The partner of Mark Dickey, the American caver trapped thousands of feet underground in Turkey for 12 days before being rescued, has spoken out about his health and the moment she knew things had taken a turn for the worse.

"You always hear the term black tarry stool," Jessica Van Ord, a paramedic, told Michael Strahan in an interview on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday. "When I saw it, I knew immediately we were dealing with internal bleeding. Mark needed to first get back to camp safely. Unfortunately, under his own power because we were just a small group at that time. We just had to keep our eyes on what was happening and make sure we were planning and acting appropriate."

Dickey, 40, had been trapped inside the Morca Cave in southern Turkey's Taurus Mountains since Aug. 31, when he fell ill more than 3,400 feet below the surface, according to the New Jersey Initial Response Team, a group he leads.

He was extracted from the cave around 12:37 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the Turkish Caving Federation announced, describing the operation as "successful."

"Mark is healthy right now. He's doing well," Van Ord said on "GMA." "He's able to sit up, talk. He's back to his usual self. They'll look more into the cause. More details will be coming."

Dickey remains hospitalized in the southern port city of Mersin for further examination and observation. He is currently in good condition, according to Turkish authorities.

Van Ord, at one point, had a difficult decision to make -- stay by her partner's side to take care of him or go and seek medical attention.

"I was ready to leave him immediately because I knew we had to get the ball rolling if there was going to be a rescue and to have treatment started," Van Ord said. "So I knew that he was in good hands. I think I just said one last hug before I go."

Meanwhile, Dickey’s parents were overwhelmed with emotion after their son was rescued on Tuesday.

"The fact that our son, Mark Dickey, has been moved out of Morca Cave in stable condition is indescribably relieving and fills us with incredible joy. It is, we know, an event that all involved in the extensive rescue effort worked so significantly hard for," his parents told ABC News in a statement.