1992-555 Zion (Utah) SAR; Fatality
At 3:15 p.m. on October 10th, David Bryant, 32, of Salt Lake City, fell about 30 feet and suffered major injuries while attempting to rappel into the canyon of the Left Fork of North Creek. Bryant and two companions had tied their rope off on a small pinion pine near the canyon rim. His companions rappelled down safely; the 220-pound Bryant slipped when he attempted to descend, however, and the shock to the line pulled the tree out. Bryant fell backwards and landed on rock.
Among the dozen people at the location was a doctor. He determined Bryant had a pulse but was not breathing. The doctor fashioned an airway out of the handle of a plastic milk jug, intubated him, and began ventilations. A member of the party hiked out for help. The park received the call at 4:45 p.m. and immediately requested a helicopter from Nellis AFB. Bryant was hoisted out and arrived at a hospital in St. George at 8:30 p.m. Although he still had a pulse at the time, doctors soon pronounced him dead.
2000-430 - Zion NP (UT) - Multiple Rescues – Left Fork
On the afternoon of July 19th, rangers responded to a report of a visitor with a broken leg on the Upper Left Fork of North Creek. Rangers Cindy Purcell and Scott Cooper found 51-year-old Robert Sproul a quarter mile below Russell Gulch. Sproul had jumped six feet from a boulder and suffered what appeared to be an angulated fracture to his lower right leg. Due to the narrow slot canyon, a short-haul extrication was not possible. The park's technical rescue team and gear were flown by a BLM contract helicopter to the rim, and Sproul, Purcell and Cooper were raised 475 feet to the rim through heavy brush and over cliff bands. Upon reaching the rim, Sproul was transported by a medivac helicopter to a local hospital. Rescue operations were conducted entirely in the dark and took until daybreak to complete. The rescue team came upon another incident while being flown out of the area - a 33-year-old male with a severely sprained ankle at the head of Russell Gulch. He was flown out in the contract helicopter.
2000-571 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue – Right Fork
Anne G., 26, and Quentin C., 25, were rescued from a slot canyon on North Creek on Wednesday, September 6th. G. and C. headed out for a three-day canyoneering trip down the right fork of the creek on September 2nd. By mid-morning on the 3rd, they realized that they were off-route in a difficult slot canyon with numerous pools. Once they realized that they were unable to climb back up or continue down the canyon, they stopped and waited for rescuers. They were reported overdue when they failed to appear for work; the park was notified late on Tuesday afternoon. A helicopter search was begun and they were found after a space blanket was spotted in the bottom of the narrow canyon. The helicopter landed nearby and rangers rappelled to the pair. Rangers taught them how to ascend a rope and assisted them out of the 400-foot-deep canyon. Canyoneering is a sport requiring special equipment and a variety of skills, including map reading, rappelling, ascending ropes, and prior experience. Said ranger Kurt Spears: "Rappelling is not the only skill needed to safely negotiate these canyons. We're seeing a lot of people without skill or experience. You can't rely on just reading a route description."
2001-151 - Zion NP (UT) – Rescue – The Subway
On Saturday, April 14th, 9:30 a.m., two park teams were called out to rescue a group of visitors stranded on the "Subway" canyoneering route. A party of ten had begun a day trip on the route the previous day. After traveling halfway into the canyon, they realized they were unprepared for the technical and water obstacles that they were encountering. Eight of them decided to wait for rescue, while two others continued on. The two exited the drainage the next morning and contacted dispatch. Rescue teams entered the upper and lower sections of the canyon, and the upper team contacted the group around 2 p.m. Members of the two teams assisted them through the remainder of the canyon, exiting around 8 p.m. There were no injuries.
2002-451 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue – Left Fork
The park's SAR team located and rescued a stranded Canadian couple from a ledge in Russell Gulch on Thursday, September 5th. Michael and Cynthia S. of British Columbia had obtained a permit to hike the popular Subway route two days previously. While hiking to The Subway, they strayed from their route and descended into Russell Gulch. They lowered themselves down the first rappel by webbing, which proved to be too short. Michael was unable to hold on; he slid down the webbing, then fell about 15 feet into a pool of water, sustaining burns on his hand and a laceration to the back of his head. Cynthia followed and received similar burns to her hands, a laceration around one eye, and an abrasion to one arm. The couple was then stuck on the ledge, unable to go up or down.
A helicopter was employed to find the S.s, but strong winds prevented it from being used to shuttle rescuers and gear to the site. Two SAR team members hiked to the site and determined the S.s were in good shape medically despite their falls. The rest of the SAR team arrived with rescue gear and extracted them from the gulch. They were brought back to their car, where the S.s opted to drive themselves to the Dixie Regional Medical Center to have their burns examined. This incident provided a good illustration of the importance of informing others about planned outings. The permit system provided the information needed to locate and rescue the lost and stranded hikers. (Editor's Note: it rained torrentially the night after their rescue.)