Zion National Park fatality; body of overdue hiker found in Narrows

SPRINGDALE – The body of a 34-year-old male hiker was found Sunday by park rangers in the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park. The name of the deceased is not being released at this time pending notification of next of kin.

The deceased and another male companion had entered the Narrows from the Riverside Walk Trail early Saturday morning, according to a Zion National Park press statement. At that time, the river was running at approximately 46 cubic feet per second.

At around 9:30 a.m., rain began to fall and the pair decided to end their hike and go back down the Narrows to the Riverside Walk Trail. During their walk out, the river started rising rapidly and quickly reached flash flood levels, peaking at 4,020 cfs, according to the statement.

The two hikers became stranded on high ground, but on opposite sides of the river. They could not communicate due to the noise from the river. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., they waited for the water to recede, but it was still too high for them to hike out, the statement said. At that time, one of the hikers decided to try to exit the Narrows to the Riverside Walk Trail by swimming down the flooding river.

The other hiker remained safe on high ground on the opposite side of the river. The hiker who entered the river, safely made it out and contacted a park ranger at approximately 6:30 p.m. According to the park’s press release, the hiker who made it out, told the park ranger that his companion was still stranded on high ground, but was not injured or in distress – apparently at the time the hiker last saw him.

Rangers arrived at the Narrows, but the river was still flowing at approximately 1,000–1,500 cfs which is too high for them to safely enter the river from downstream. They determined that the best course of action was to wait until Sunday morning, after the river had receded to a safe level, and rescue the overdue hiker, who they believed was safe on high ground and not injured.

Hikers are not allowed up the Narrows if stream flow exceeds 150 cubic feet per second.

Sunday morning, a ranger rescue team was notified by the overdue hiker’s companion that he had hiked into the Narrows earlier that morning but could not locate his partner at the point last seen. The rescue effort then turned into a search.

The overdue hiker’s body was found by the search team at approximately 2 p.m. along the bank of the Virgin River near the Riverside Walk.

More information about this incident will be available in the following days.

Submitted by Zion National Park

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  • Voice of Reason September 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    This is such a sad story. It never needed to happen. The National weather service issued the first flood warnings at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

  • Bobber September 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    flash flood waters are much too swift to swim most the time…

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