4 dead, 3 missing in Zion National Park flash flood

Four people are dead and three people are missing Tuesday after canyoneering at Zion National Park during a flash flood, according to officials.

Three men and one woman were among those found dead, Zion National Park spokeswoman Holly Baker said. They’re described as being in their 40s and 50s and are from California and Nevada.

Seven canyoneers picked up a permit for Keyhole Canyon, a short and narrow canyon on the east side of the park, about 7:40 a.m. Monday, a Zion news release said. They were advised that flooding for the day was “probable,” the release said.

Heavy rain stormed through Zion Canyon later that day about 4:30 p.m. measuring up to 0.63 inches in an hour.

The Keyhole Canyon watershed is small and principally slickrock, so a flood front with abruptly rising water levels would arrive quickly, according to the release.

The canyoneers went out to Keyhole Canyon before the flooding, and when rangers found their vehicles unoccupied, they began a search Tuesday morning when they determined the canyoneers had not left the canyon.

Search efforts will continue for the remaining three hikers until dark and begin again Wednesday morning, Baker said. However, high water levels, continued rain and flash flooding concerns have hindered searchers’ access to the technical portions of the canyoneering route.

Contact Cassandra Taloma at ctaloma@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @CassandraTaloma.

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