Zion National Park Flood
According to the National Park Service this is a self-portrait of the group of deceased canyoneers at Keyhole Canyon on Monday, September 14, 2015 before the Zion National Park Flood. Photographed from left to right: Gary Favela, Don Teichner, Muku Reynolds, Steve Arthur, Linda Arthur, Robin Brum, and Mark MacKenzie. Source: NPS.gov

A freak flash flood Monday at Keyhole Canon in Zion National Park resulted in the deaths of seven canyoneers. Today park officials released details on the fate of the canyoneers and the names of the deceased. According to park officials a flood warning was issued at the park at 2:22 p.m. and canyons were closed to canyoneers. Notifications were made through media sources and posted throughout the park.

Zion National Park Flood
Canyons like these are popular with canyoneers in Zion National Park, but fill in minutes with dangerous fast moving water and debris during flash floods. Source: grindtv.com

At approximately 3:30 the seven canyoneers entered the Keyhole Canon, after several of the group members received an introductory canyoneering course. Flood warnings were given to all permit holders, but a park official acknowledged that once hikers enter the canyon, little can be done to warn them of impending floods. Between 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. nearly an inch of rain fell in Zion National Park causing flash flooding that resulted in the North Fork of the Virgin River to raise abruptly from 55 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) to 2,630 CFS in 15 minutes.

Zion National Park Flood
Search and rescue members prepare to extract a body of one of the seven canyoneers killed during a flash flood on Monday. Source: businessinsider.com
Zion National Park Flood
Dangerous cliffs and bad weather hamper recovery efforts following flooding in Zion National Park. Source: usnews.com

Park spokesman David Eaker told reporters that the flooding likely rushed over the heads of the canyoneers in moments and carried them miles downstream. “It would be just like a drain, it just funnels down in there very quickly, very fast,” said Eaker.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., while the fate of the seven canyoneers hung in the balance, another group of canyoneers that had just escaped the flooding reported to park rangers that they saw the crew of seven and believed they had been caught in the flood.

Zion National Park Flood
Fast moving flood waters hampered efforts to locate and recover the missing bodies. Search and rescue personnel worked long hours for three days to recover the missing. Source: sfgate.com

The continued flooding and dangerous conditions hampered the search and rescue effort immediately following the sighting of the seven canyoneers. Over the next three days, according to Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh, over 60 searchers from multiple agencies contributed over 1,135 hours in efforts to find the lost canyoneers. The first body was located by searchers on Tuesday at around 1:30; the final body was located on Thursday around 10:30 a.m., an investigation into the deaths is ongoing.

The National Park Service said the seven deceased canyoneers were 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.

In Related News

Flash flooding in the area also claimed at least 12 other people, including nine children, when two cars were swept away by the raging flood waters.

Zion National Park Flood
Source: bakersfieldnow.com

Leave a Reply