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UPDATE: Seven Fatalities Confirmed in Zion National Park

UPDATE: Seven Fatalities Confirmed in Zion National Park
September 17
12:18 2015

UPDATE:

Springdale, UT– Search and Rescue personnel have located the body of the last missing canyoneer from Keyhole Canyon. This brings the number of fatalities from Monday’s flash flood to 7.

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UPDATE:

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.

Keyhole Canyoneer_a2013

 

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.”

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Springdale, UT– Rangers at Zion National Park continue to search for three missing canyoneers following Monday’s flash flood in Keyhole Canyon. At this time there are four confirmed fatalities. Names will not be released until the families 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. 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. Four bodies were located while searching Keyhole Canyon and downstream.Keyhole Canyoneer_b2013

This morning, the search continues with approximately 60 Search and Rescue personnel from Zion National Park, Springdale/ Rockville Fire and Sheriff’s Department, and Washington County Search and Rescue. Personnel will be doing a more in-depth search of Clear Creek, Pine Creek and the Virgin River. Once weather conditions improve, they will also search Keyhole Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon.

 

Timeline:

 

Monday

 

7:40 a.m. Group of seven picked up their canyoneering permit for Keyhole Canyon.

 

2:22 p.m. The area came under a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service. The warning was publicized through several media sources and posted in all of the park’s contact stations. Canyons were closed to canyoneering.

 

4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Zion Canyon received 0.63 inches of rain in less than one hour. Rangers noted Keyhole Canyon and several other canyons began to flash flood. The flow of the North Fork of the Virgin River rose abruptly from 55 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) to 2,630 CFS in 15 minutes. The park receives levels this high approximately once every three years.

Station Peak Flow Time
North Fork 2,630 5:30 pm
East Fork 2,740 5:45 pm
Virgin R. at Virgin 1,690 9:15 pm

 

5:30 p.m. Another canyoneering group who had been through Keyhole Canyon just before the flood reported to park rangers that they had passed a group of seven canyoneers and believed that they may have been caught in the flood. Rangers located the group’s vehicles, but did not see any sign of the group. Keyhole Canwas already flash flooding. Due to weather at the time and through the evening, it was determined that rescue operations could not be safely initiated.

 

9:00 p.m. Park rangers rechecked on the canyoneers. There was still no sign of the group.

 

Tuesday

 

7:00 a.m. The search began. Because of the weather, Keyhole Canyon was still inaccessible to Search and Rescue crews, but they were able to follow its course and glimpse in it at several locations. There was no response to verbal calls. The search continued downstream into Clear Creek.

 

1:30 p.m. One body was located.

 

2:30 p.m. A private canyoneering group went through Keyhole Canyon and reported one body inside.

 

4:00 p.m. The search was continued in Clear Creek, Pine Creek and the Virgin River. A third body was located.

 

5:15 p.m. A fourth body was discovered

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