Four Fatalities Confirmed in Zion National Park, Three Still Missing

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Date: September 16, 2015
Contact: Aly Baltrus, 435-703-3836

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.

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 Canyon was 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



Last updated: September 16, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.
State Route 9

Springdale, UT 84767

Phone:

(435) 772-3256
Staffed daily from 8 am - 4 pm. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. If you are unable to reach someone by phone, please email us at zion_park_information@nps.gov.

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