Torrential flash floods swept through a Utah canyon, claiming the lives of two hikers, according to an announcement by the local sheriff’s office.
On Sunday, May 21, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office received a distress call regarding a hiking group en route to Lee’s Ferry in the Paria River. According to deputies, the group made a grim discovery when they stumbled upon a deceased man in the canyon, south of the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch junction.
Efforts to recover the body involved collaboration between Arizona authorities, the sheriff’s office, and the Utah Department of Public Safety. Since the man had no form of identification on him, deputies began a search for vehicles parked at various trailheads in an attempt to identify him.
The following day, the sheriff’s office was contacted by a police department in Ohio, reporting two overdue hikers. Families of the men revealed that they had not talked to them since Saturday afternoon. They planned a five-mile hike in Wire Pass and the Buckskin Gulch.
After examining photographs provided by the families, authorities confirmed that the deceased individual found in Paria was Gary York, a 65-year-old resident of West Chester Township. Determined search and rescue teams began scouring the Buckskin Gulch vicinity for the missing hiker, John Walter, aged 72, from Kettering.
During their search, crews located Walter’s lifeless body. Investigative findings unveiled that both men were caught off guard and swept away by the powerful surge of water while hiking.
Deputies revealed that Gary York had been carried nearly 10 miles downstream along the canyon, while John Walter had been swept away a distance of seven to eight miles. The sheriff’s office emphasized the formidable force and peril of flash flooding in Kane County’s slot canyons.
The canyon had previously claimed the lives of two Florida men due to flooding in March. Buckskin Gulch, known for its towering sandstone walls, remains a popular 16-mile hiking destination near the Utah and Arizona border.