October 3, 2015
Contact: Aly Baltrus
Contact: David Eaker
Springdale, Utah: On Friday, October 2, at approximately 1:00 p.m., Zion National Park was alerted to a canyoneering accident in Not Imlay Canyon. A rescue operation was started immediately. A helicopter was used to drop off a Search and Rescue team at the top of the canyon. At 7:20 p.m., Park Rangers found the individual, Christian Louis Johnson, deceased. Johnson, 50, is from Saint George, Utah.
Not Imlay Canyon is a side canyon of Imlay Canyon. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a shorter, drier route compared to Imlay Canyon but it is not any less technical or dangerous.
Johnson was canyoneering with a party of four, including his husband Everett Boutillet. The two had been canyoneering together since 2010 and had "descended more than 100 canyons 200 times in five states" according to Boutillet. This was the couple's second time in Not Imlay Canyon. The accident occurred on the first rappel in the canyon.
"Zion was our favorite park. Our favorite place to be. Our first canyon was the 'Subway' and we were instantly addicted," said Boutillet. "Louis and I understood the risks, but the joy that it brought outweighed them." Johnson's mother, Joy Johnson, added "Nature gave him so much peace."
"We also want to share our gratitude for those that went out to him and brought him back and to the personnel for keeping us informed," said Joy Johnson. "Also our gratitude to his canyoneering family, who have sent Louis and Everett well wishes from all around the world."
The Washington County Sheriff's Office and Zion National Park are investigating the incident. More information will become available once the investigation is complete.
"Our condolences go out to Louis' family and friends," said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.