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Body of Final Hiker Found In Utah Following Flash Floods


AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Search and rescue team members carry a body after it was found along Pine Creek, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Zion National Park, near Springdale, Utah. Authorities are searching for other hikers killed in flash flooding that swept through a narrow canyon at Utah's Zion National Park.

Authorities say searchers have found the last body of seven hikers killed in flash flooding that swept through a narrow canyon at Utah's Zion National Park.

Washington County sheriff's Detective Nate Abbott confirmed the death Thursday as crews dropped into Keyhole Canyon. The bodies of three men and one woman were found Tuesday, and two other bodies were found Wednesday.

Dave DeMille, who is with The Spectrum and Daily News, which is based in St. George, Utah spent Wednesday in Zion National Park. He told KNPR’s State of Nevada there were about 60 search and rescuers on the scene but since it is a busy season for the park there were also hikers enjoying the scenery. 

"In many ways it was business as usual, if you didn't notice all the emergency vehicles and search crews kind of scrambling around through the water ways," he said.

The Ventura County Sheriff Department in California identified one of the people killed in the flooding as a 21 year veteran of its department. His wife was also killed.

So far, that is the only official identification.

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"The Park Service right now is focusing on the search and they are not identifying anybody until they've made sure they've identified all of the next of kin," DeMille explained.

DeMille said questions have been raised about permits for hikers. The group did have a permit to hike in the canyon and were told by park rangers that bad weather was probable. 

Once the recovery effort is finished, DeMille said a board will look at the permitting process and whether changes are needed to avoid another tragedy.

However, DeMille said most of the hikers he spoke with agreed that it was not a mistake by the rangers but a matter of 'the wrong place at the wrong time.'

"This canyon is not the longest," he said. "It's not the most treacherous. They just happened to be there at time when a wall of water came through and there was no escape."

A short distance from the southern edge of Zion National Park in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona residents are being asked to boil their water, following flash flooding there.

When the storms rolled through that area Monday, the flood waters washed away a van filled with three women and 13 children. Twelve lives were lost. One person is still missing there.

Washington County Emergency Services in Utah said no contamination has been found, pending water sample testing, but that boiling water for one minute would guarantee it's safe to drink.

The county said repairs are being made to a spring damaged by the storm.

The flash flooding early this week could be the worst weather-related disaster in Utah history.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


Dave DeMille, reporter, The Spectrum and Daily News, St. George, Utah

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