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Three Canyoneers Survive Flash Flood in Zion National Park


Armed with little more than a headlamp and determination, an injured canyoneer in Zion National Park managed to save himself and two buddies after the three were washed down canyon by a flash flood.

The Las Vegas men, whose names were not released, were canyoneering in the park's Spry Canyon on Saturday when a flash flood -- spawned by a thunderstorm that dropped an inch of rain in less than 30 minutes -- roared down on them. All three were washed over a 40-foot drop, the Park Service said, and two of the three then went over a 60-foot drop.

One of the three used his headlamp to signal a distress call, and as luck would have it an off-duty ranger hiking on the switchbacks west of the Zion Mt-Carmel Tunnel reported seeing the flashing light at the top of the last rappel in Spry Canyon, the agency said, explaining that Spry Canyon drains into Pine Creek and is visible from the switchbacks.

Two rangers sent to investigate found the three men. Their injuries were not reported by the Park Service.

A helicopter was used to short-haul the two most seriously injured men to air ambulances that then transported them to the Dixie Regional Medical Center in nearby St. George, Utah, park officials said. The third man was assisted out by foot and then transported by ground ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center. The rescue effort involved 20 park personnel and three helicopters.

The weather report for Saturday called for just a 30 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms but the U.S. Weather Service said there was a "moderate potential" for flash flooding, according to the Park Service.

"This incident emphasizes the importance heeding the weather and flash flood potential reports and seriously considering the advisability of entering narrow canyons when rain and flash flooding are a possibility," the Park Service added.


Hi, just watching your story on the show, 'I Survived...' and I just wanted to thank the 3 of you for sharing your story and bringing awareness to such situations.  I'm glad that everyone survived and it's quite the story for years to come.  I'm sure it will save lives in the future.  

Hey Dave, Thanks for helping my brother Jason to shore after he shattered his hip. I am sure that doing so was not without risk to you. You're a good dude,

As Joe's mother.....I want to THANK THANK THANK the group who pulled him out of danger and also the rangers and the medical unit that transported him to the hospital so quickly. We thank God every day that Joe and his 2 friends are alive and healing. It was a terrifying reminder that we should not take life for granted. Big hugs to all of you that helped!

Wow, glad to hear all survived. I've been down spy twice. The first time it started to rain at the last narrow drop. Buy the time we got down to the canyon floor it was coming down pretty good. I believe the weather report for that day was also 30% chance.

Scary stuff. I couldn't get out of that narrow fast enough. I believe we have some picks of the rain and dark clouds somewhere.

Again, glad to hear no one got killed! Not many could have survived that.

Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers! I visited Jason and Joe over the weekend. Jason was walking with a walker and in very good spirits. Joe just got home yesterday from the hospital and was also walking when I saw him. It looks like we are all going to fully recover in time. What a miracle! Also, while I was at Joe's we got a call from a gentleman that found my backpack that was lost in the flood and he is going to mail it to us!

Dave- Your family in the DC area are extremely glad that you are ok. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to you and your friends- Jason and Joe. Thank you to all who assisted in this amazing rescue!! We are so glad your guardian angels were on duty that day!!

I'm glad you are safe and sound. My thoughts are with your friends who seem to have had it a little bit rougher time. Thanks to everyone who helped.

David, I am so glad to hear that you and the others are ok. What a beautiful way you spoke of all the others, you have always been so gracious. I have you and your friends, as well as everyone who helped you, in my thoughts.
Love you and miss you.

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