SALT LAKE CITY — Two men were found dead after floodwaters poured into a slot canyon near the Utah-Arizona border, endangering three groups of hikers who had to be hoisted out by helicopter.
Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Allen Alldredge said the first man who was found dead was among a group of three hiking south to Lees Ferry across the Utah-Arizona border. Another man in the group was rescued and taken to the hospital, where he was being treated for hypothermia and bodily injury after days of exposure.
Authorities found a second body on Wednesday afternoon across the Arizona border. Although they couldn’t immediately confirm it was a man identified as missing earlier in the week, Alldredge said they “were very confident that it was our missing individual” and called off additional search.
Alldredge said authorities received a call Monday from the spouse of a hiker who had not returned home from a hike they began Friday. The hikers were on a multiday trek from Wire Pass to Lees Ferry through Buckskin Gulch’s sandstone features that includes multiple narrow slot canyons.
The “atmospheric river” storms that swept parts of the western United States last weekend raised the water level in the canyons before additional floodwaters spilled into the slot canyons early this week. Authorities continued to search for the missing hiker as weather forecasts predicted additional rain Wednesday.
Two Utah Department of Public Safety helicopters and another hiker helped locate the second body found on Wednesday. After being called for the initial group of three, the Department of Public Safety helicopters helped extract 11 other people Tuesday who were stuck in frigid floodwaters and had called for help.