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Re: Three Canyoneering Fatalities, Four Others Missing in Zion National Park

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avatar Three Canyoneering Fatalities, Four Others Missing in Zion National Park
September 15, 2015 08:50PM
Springdale, UT- On the afternoon of Monday, September 14, 2015 the area in and around Zion National Park experienced heavy rain. Storms arrived between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m and dropped 0.63” in Zion Canyon in one hour. As a result of these local storms, flash flooding occurred in the park including a small canyon called Keyhole Canyon.

Rangers received a report of a group of seven individuals canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon shortly before the flooding began. Their unoccupied vehicles were located on Monday evening and a search began the morning of Tuesday, September 15, 2015 when it was determined that these individuals had not exited the canyon. Of the seven individuals involved, three fatalities are confirmed and the remaining four are missing. Names are not being released at this time, pending notification of kin. As the search continues for the missing hikers, high water levels and continued rain showers pose further flash flooding concerns and have hampered searchers’ access to the technical portions of the canyoneering route.

Keyhole Canyon is a short, narrow slot canyon located on the east side of Zion National Park. A permit is required for traveling through Keyhole Canyon and individuals must complete several short rappels under 30 feet and swim through several pools of water.
avatar Search Continues in Zion National Park, One Still Missing
September 17, 2015 01:10PM
Springdale, UT- Search efforts continued all day Wednesday, September 16, 2015 to locate individuals who have been missing since a flash flood occurred Monday in Zion National Park's Keyhole Canyon. The bodies of two additional individuals were located Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed fatalities in this incident to six. One individual is still missing.

Over 60 searchers from multiple agencies have contributed over 640 hours in their efforts to find the missing people. Agencies assisting Zion National Park include Washington County Search and Rescue, Kane County Search and Rescue, Sanpete County Search and Rescue, Washington County Deputies, Rocky Mountain Canine Unit, Town of Springdale, Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District, the Color Country Interagency Fire Center, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. "We appreciate the tremendous multi-agency response from local and regional emergency services agencies," said park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. "Together, we have been able to quickly implement an effective and efficient search operation."

On Monday, September 14, 2015, rangers received a report of a group of seven individuals canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon shortly before the area flooded. Zion recorded 0.63 inches of rain and the North Fork of the Virgin River rose from 55 cubic feet per second to 2,630 cubic feet per second in 15 minutes. Extensive search efforts were not possible during the flooding or while the threat of flooding was still present. Four bodies were located Tuesday while searching the area of Keyhole Canyon and downstream.

The names of individuals will not be released until the families have been notified. Search efforts for the remaining canyoneer will begin again Thursday at first light. Superintendent Bradybaugh noted that "Our focus is upon the victim's families, to support them at this difficult time with compassion and respect."
avatar Last Missing Keyhole Canyon Canyoneer Found
September 17, 2015 02:35PM
Springdale, UT- Search and Rescue personnel have located the body of the last missing canyoneer from Keyhole Canyon. This brings the total fatalities to 7. The names of the individuals have not been released at this time and will be released once the family and next of kin have been notified.

On Monday, September 14, 2015, Rangers received a report of a group of seven individuals canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon shortly before the area flooded. Zion recorded 0.63 inches of rain and the North Fork of the Virgin River rose from 55 cubic feet per second to 2,630 cubic feet per second in 15 minutes. Extensive search efforts were not possible during the flooding or while the threat of flooding was still present. On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, two additional individuals were located. As weather conditions improved in the park, rescuers were able to locate the last missing person on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

During the Search and Rescue Operations, over 60 searchers from multiple agencies have contributed over 760 hours in their efforts to find the missing people. Agencies assisting Zion National Park include Washington County Search and Rescue, Kane County Search and Rescue, Sanpete County Search and Rescue, Washington County Deputies, Town of Springdale, Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District, Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs, the Color Country Interagency Fire Center, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

"Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the canyoneers," said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.
avatar Re: Three Canyoneering Fatalities, Four Others Missing in Zion National Park
September 22, 2015 10:33AM
There is a good story about the group here.

I met one of the hikers, Muku Reynolds, while hiking Mt Baldy a couple of years ago...she was a friend of my hiking buddy Mike. I remember her as a very experienced hiker as well as a fun person, after spending just a few minutes chatting on the trail. Somebody that I would have liked to get to know better. Very sad, and a reminder that even the most experienced hikers can suffer serious consequences in the outdoors.

A gofundme site has been set up to help pay for her funeral expenses, it can be accessed here.
avatar Re: Three Canyoneering Fatalities, Four Others Missing in Zion National Park
September 24, 2015 11:10PM
A really sad story. But it's hard to think that this group of seven were very cautious as one of their daughters stated in the article, “they were being extra cautious and taking every precaution they could.” when the morning forecast for the Zion region was already predicting 40% chance of precipitation, with the possibility of heavy thunderstorms that afternoon with flash floods being a "moderate" risk. To me, it looks like they took a calculated risk and lost.

And in regards to Zion National Park's staff, should they be issuing permits for slot canyons when according to that L.A. Times article, “At the Zion visitor center, a ranger wrote on a cardboard sign near the wilderness desk that flash flooding that day was "probable." Rangers also informed people verbally when they sought permits.”

Hopefully as a result of this tragedy, Zion will change its permit system for slot canyons and not issue permits on days when flash flooding is deemed to be "probable" as it was that Monday (according to the L.A. Times article). It simply doesn't seem prudent for the Park Service to give permits to an activity where the possible day's weather conditions could be so dangerous for such activity as canyoneering through a slot canyon.

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