A trip to a national park normally lets you leave stress and worry behind, but when falling temperatures combined with light snow at Grand Canyon National Park the conditions produced slick roads that led to a number of accidents involving roughly 40 vehicles, including one that came close to sliding off into the abyss.
Phones at the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center began ringing off the hook about 5 p.m. Tuesday with callers reporting a number of accidents in the area of Bubbeln Hill on Desert View Drive on the South Rim. One of the callers reporting the rollover of a 15-passenger van and the possibility that a car had gone over the canyon rim near Navajo Point, which is located midway between Buggeln Hill and Desert View.
According to a park release, emergency crews arrived at Buggeln Hill at approximately 5:30 p.m. and "found multiple accidents, involving approximately 40 vehicles, blocking the road. After determining that no serious injuries were being reported, crews began working to clear a lane so that additional emergency responders could continue on to Navajo Point."
The 15-passenger van was founded about 25 feet below the lip of the rim, according to park officials. All six of its passengers had already exited the vehicle and were reporting only minor injuries by the time the rescuers arrived. Initial investigations indicate that the van slid over the edge and rolled a short way down the embankment, the park reported.
Two ambulances and additional ranger staff from Grand Canyon Village arrived at the Navajo Point accident scene at approximately 6:10 p.m. once a lane at Buggeln Hill had been cleared. After being examined by park emergency medical technicians, two of the van’s six passengers were transported to Flagstaff Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, the park reported, adding that the other four passengers were transported to Tusayan where they were to spend the night.
If you're planning to visit Grand Canyon in winter, keep in mind that winter driving conditions can be expected to persist in the park as periodic snowstorms are followed by daytime melting and nighttime freezing. Park visitors are encouraged to tune their radios to AM 1610 where they can hear recommendations for driving in winter conditions.