Zion National Park Releases Names of Keyhole Canyon Fatalities

Self-portrait of the group standing before the first rappel of Keyhole Canyon on Monday, September 14, 2015.
Self-portrait of the group standing before the first rappel of Keyhole Canyon on Monday, September 14, 2015. Photographed from left to right: Gary Favela, Don Teichner, Muku Reynolds, Steve Arthur, Linda Arthur, Robin Brum, and Mark MacKenzie.

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News Release Date: September 17, 2015

Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811

Springdale, UT- The seven Keyhole Canyon canyoneers who were overtaken by a flash flood in Zion National Park, have been identified. They are Mark MacKenzie, 56, of Valencia, CA;Linda Arthur, 57, of Camarillo, CA;Steve Arthur, 58, of Camarillo, CA;Gary Favela, 51, of Rancho Cucamonga, CA;Don Teichner, 55, of Mesquite, NV;Muku Reynolds, 59, of Chino, CA;and Robin Brum, 53, of Camarillo, CA.

Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh noted that "Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those affected by the flash flooding in Keyhole Canyon. We have witnessed an incredible community of the family members and friends of the canyoneers come together to support one another. The canyoneers along with their families and friends are in our thoughts." The families of the canyoneers extend their deepest gratitude for all of the Search and Rescuers and have also requested privacy during this difficult time. 

During the Search and Rescue Operations, over 60 searchers from multiple agencies contributed over 1,135 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 Sheriff's Office, the Town of Springdale, Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District, Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs Unit, 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 all of the support from our cooperators and staff for all of their care and assistance," stated Bradybaugh. 

Timeline: 
Monday, September 14, 2015 

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

2:22 p.m. The park 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. 

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The group of seven entered Keyhole Canyon. 

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. River levels this high occur approximately once every three years.

Peak Flows:
North Fork:  2,630 cfs at 5:30 pm
East Fork:  2,740 cfs at 5:45 pm
Virgin River at Virgin:  1,690 cfs at 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 checked on the canyoneers again. There was still no sign of the group. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 
7:00 a.m. The search began. Keyhole Canyon was still inaccessible to Search and Rescue crews due to weather and high water levels. Searchers were able to follow its course and glimpse into the canyon at several locations. There was no response to verbal calls. The search continued downstream into Clear Creek. 
1:30 p.m. Steve Arthur was located in Clear Creek. 
2:30 p.m. A private canyoneering group went through Keyhole Canyon and reported the location of an individual who was later identified as Gary Favela. 
4:15 p.m. Muku Reynolds was located in Clear Creek. 
5:15 p.m. Don Teichner was located in Pine Creek drainage. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 
7:00 a.m. The search resumed. Due to weather conditions and high water levels, the technical sections of Keyhole Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon were not accessible. 
11:15 a.m. Robin Brum was located in Pine Creek drainage. 
11:50 a.m. Mark MacKenzie was located in Pine Creek drainage. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015
7:00 a.m. The search began. Improved weather conditions allowed rescuers to enter the technical sections of Keyhole Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon. 
10:45 a.m. Linda Arthur was located in Pine Creek Canyon. 
6:00 p.m. Search and Rescue Operations were concluded. An investigation is still on-going at this time. 






Last updated: September 17, 2015

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