The last body of seven hikers, all in their 50s, who died together during a flash flood in Zion National Park was recovered on Thursday after emergency crews were able to search narrow Keyhole Canyon into which they had rappelled three days before.
The hikers entered the canyon -- at some places only three feet wide -- even though a flash flood warning had been posted for that area in Utah about an hour earlier on Monday, reported KTVN-TV
. Park rangers said the area began to flood shortly after the hikers went into the canyon.
Even in dry weather, the Keyhole hike is challenging, requiring visitors to complete several rappels of up to 30 feet each and swim through numerous pools of water, said the Salt Lake Tribune
Six of the hikers were from California: Mark MacKenzie, 56, of Valencia; Linda Arthur, 57, and her husband, Steve Arthur, 58, of Camarillo; Muku Reynolds, 59, of Chino; Robin Brum, 53, of Camarillo; and Gary Favela, 51, of Rancho Cucamonga.
The seventh hiker, Don Teichner, 55, was from Mesquite, Nevada.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department in California confirmed that Steve Arthur was a sergeant with the department. His wife Linda Arthur was a mother of three and grandmother of seven.
More than 60 search and rescue personnel participated in the hunt for the hikers which ended when the last body was found downstream from the canyon, said park officials.
The park's chief ranger, Cindy Purcell, told Reuters
that the leader of the hiking group was familiar with exploring the canyon area but, she said, when the group received their permits at 7:30 a.m. on Monday a ranger had advised them about the possibility of flash flooding and rain.
"The ranger who handed that permit to that man said, 'I would not go today,'" said Purcell. "However, the people who go make the choice, they sign the paper that says that it is their safety and their responsibility."
The National Weather Service issued the flash flood warning after the seven were on their way to the canyon, she said.
The same storm unleashed a flash flood about 20 miles away
that washed away two vehicles, killing 13 women and children in Hildale, said the Tribune.
"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those affected by the flash flooding in Keyhole Canyon," park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in a statement.
"We have witnessed an incredible community of the family members and friends of the canyoneers come together to support one another. The canyoneers along with their families and friends are in our thoughts."
"We appreciate all of the support from our cooperators and staff for all of their care and assistance," Bradybaugh said in the park statement.
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