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Another Death in Zion National Park; Where Was Safety?

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People are so sad and angry about another death in Zion National Park; a woman lost his life on Wednesday (November 23, 2022) during a hiking trip with her husband there, after succumbing to the freezing temperatures.

May she rest in peace; our thoughts and prayers are with her family and all her loved ones during this heartbreaking period.

The 31-year-old woman was left behind by her 33-year-old husband, so he could bring her help, while when he came back she was dead, according to the National Park Service.

The couple had been hiking on a permitted 16-mile top-down route through the Narrows, where a 22-year-old Arizona tourist formerly was swept away in scary floodwater in August. They began their journey Tuesday and spent the night camping in the park.

The heartbroken man reported that the weather turned “dangerously cold overnight,” NPS stated. His wife kicked off showing signs they identified as hypothermia.

On Wednesday morning, the couple stopped about a mile and a half from the north end of Riverside Walk, a paved trail that leads from the Temple of Sinawava to the Narrows, and decided to split.

The woman stayed behind while the husband, additionally injured, resumed his journey, finally finding park rangers on the path. Zion park team members took him to an emergency medical center, the NPS declared.

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Second Death in Zion National Park in One Year

It seems officials should provide more safety for visitors who came to the park; it is not logical that more than one person is killed in a place that is covered by the officials. Actually, after the first death, security measures should have been taken so that this unfortunate incident does not happen again.

According to AccuWeather, the temperatures at Zion National Park ranged from a high of 55 degrees to a low of 14 on Wednesday which was colder than the average November low of 37 in Zion.

Other visitors administered CPR to the woman before Zion’s rescue teams arrived, but it was too late. The identities of the couple have not yet been revealed. The woman’s death comes on the same day rescuers in New Hampshire found the body of Vanderbilt student Emily Sotelo, who likely succumbed to bone-chilling temperatures and high winds.

Park rangers found the man at Riverside Walk, where fellow visitors were helping him down the trail. He was then transported to the Zion Emergency Operations Center, officials said.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, and the National Park Service are still investigating the cause of the woman’s death,” the National Park Service said Thursday.

According to the National Park Service, more than 20 search and rescue officials were involved in the park’s rescue response.

In August, another woman last took his last breath at Zion National Park while hiking through The Narrows. Jetal Agnihotri, a 29-year-old from Arizona, was found after a four-day search – miles from the area where she was swept away by floodwaters while visiting the park with friends.

NPS officials remind hikers trekking in cold conditions to pack extra layers and food, stay dry, and maintain physical movement.


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1 Comment

  1. Robert November 26, 2022

    The loss of life is tragic. Such a painful loss for her family and friends. I salute the rescuers and lifesaving attempts performed by passers-by.

    I have read several new reports of the incident and am disappointed at the tenor of this article. Has the author ever hiked in Zion National Park (ZNP)? Have you talked to the rangers or gone through the permit process to understand what they do to education visitors? There is always risk when you choose this type of adventure. There are no roads or easy access, and for much of this hike, there isn’t even a trail. The Park Service does a great job of educating people as part of the application and permitting process.

    I have hiked the Zion Narrows from top down where this tragedy occurred. It was also “unseasonably” cold. When walked into the river we would break through thin ice that was forming along the bank of the river. This is the end of November. Preparation is critical particularly for a hike in the late fall or winter where you spend much of the time in the water. Even with taking all appropriate precautions, there is risk. Most worthy adventure involves risk. The Park Service is not to blame this incident.

    As for the flash flood fatality, the Park Service has educational videos in the Visitors Center, and on the website warning of flash floods and showing the devastation. There are informational boards and signage at popular trailheads as well. There have been two occasions where I have chosen not to enter narrow canyons in ZNP due to potential rain in the region that could lead to a flash flood. There is a backcountry desk, where they warn travelers of the risk and answer questions. On both occasions, I drove to the trailhead, permit in hand and analyzed risk vs benefit. I watched other parties enter the canyon. There was no flood on either day. There is no way to be sure if it will flood or not and it is up to the individual to do the research and make the decision appropriate for them, knowing the risk.

    The National Park Service in ZNP continues to do a great job balancing the safety of the visitors against the risk of the great outdoors and Mother Nature.

    Reply

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