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Contact: Jonathan Shafer, (435) 772-0145
SPRINGDALE, Utah – Zion National Park received a report around 2:15 p.m. on Friday, August 19 of multiple hikers being swept off their feet by a flash flood in the Narrows near the Temple of Sinawava. Later in the evening, the National Park Service received a report of a hiker, Jetal Agnihotri of Tucson, Arizona, who was overdue from a trip in the Narrows. In response, park rangers continued monitoring the river during the night and mobilized additional searchers early on August 20. More than 20 Zion Search and Rescue Team members are working in and near the Virgin River searching for this missing person.
“Park rangers and other members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team responded quickly to this event, and we are continuing our efforts,” Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent said. “I want to express the park’s appreciation for the ongoing support we’ve received from the National Weather Service, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and Hurricane Valley Fire District as we continue search and rescue operations.”
Need to know
Search and rescue operations may affect visits to Zion. As of August 20:
Riverside Walk and the Narrows are closed.
Search and rescue operations are not currently affecting access to Angels Landing or most other destinations in Zion Canyon.
Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail were already closed following rain on August 18 and remain so.
Virgin River Narrows camping permits and top-down river hiking permits are canceled.
Park shuttle buses in Zion Canyon are operating at stops between the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Grotto (Shuttle Stop #6) only. In the town of Springdale, shuttles are operating on their normal route and stops.
Search and rescue response
After receiving the initial report, the National Park Service immediately sent rangers to assess the situation and began mobilizing for a large-scale response. Near the Temple of Sinawava, park rangers found an injured hiker who had been swept downstream several hundred yards. A National Park Service ambulance transported the hiker to a hospital.
Other rangers hiked up Riverside Walk and found several hikers who were isolated by high water on high ground. Rangers directed them to remain in place until water receded and then assisted them to safety.
Zion National Park maintenance staff who had been doing other work on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive immediately moved to positions along the Virgin River to monitor conditions there. More than 20 park rangers and members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team deployed with flotation devices and ropes along the Virgin River prepared to reach visitors who might be in the water.
Throughout the afternoon and evening of August 19, Zion National Park rangers interviewed groups of visitors exiting the Narrows and Riverside Walk to ensure they were not missing a member of their party. At that time, no hikers were reported missing. It wasn’t until later in the evening that friends reported Ms. Agnihotri missing.
Zion rangers are monitoring the weather and continuing the park’s search and rescue efforts.
Last updated: September 27, 2022