This was on FB: Interagency SAR Team Responds to Two Accidents in the Same Canyon over Three Days Springdale, Utah- At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, 2013, a
Message 1 of 1
, Jul 9, 2013
This was on FB: Interagency SAR Team Responds to Two Accidents in the Same Canyon over Three Days
Springdale, Utah- At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, 2013, a
multi-jurisdictional search and rescue was deployed in Kane County, just
outside Zion National Park, after receiving a cell phone call that a 21
year old woman had fallen 40-60 feet in the Birch Hollow Slot Canyon.
Kane County's request for assistance was answered by Zion National Park
(through a Mutual Aid Agreement with Kane County), a Ranger from the
Bureau of Land Management, and Utah's State Department of Natural
Resources Park Manager. Kane County Sheriff Sgt. Alldredge and NPS
Chief Ranger Purcell served as incident commanders for the Unified
Command Rescue. Kane County mobilized their technical rope rescue team
led by KSCO Volunteer King. Zion National Park responded with medics, a
technical SAR team, and short haul rescue. The rescue was a success due
to the resources and cooperation of all the agencies involved. Success
in this technical rescue effort can also be attributed to the teams'
previous experience training together. BLM Ranger Alberts, also a
KSCO SAR volunteer, was instrumental in leading the Interagency SAR team
to the best location on the canyon rim to quickly access the patient.
NPS Ranger Medic Fitzgerald and EMT Holthouse rappelled into the canyon,
assessed and stabilized Petri Moses, from Pocatello, ID. Suspecting a
possible hip fracture and potentially significant internal injuries, the
team quickly and efficiently secured her in a full body splint and
litter and raised her 90 feet out of the deepest part of the slot. The
remaining two members of the Moses party were also raised out of the
canyon. Still not to the rim of the canyon, a tough 4th class climb
through a heavily vegetated slope awaited the SAR evacuation team if a
short haul rescue was not possible. The Interagency SAR team
remained overnight with the stabilized patient. On Sunday, June 30, NPS
Helicopter 7HL utilized a 250' line for the short haul operation NPS
Medic Fitzgerald and patient were lifted out of the canyon and delivered
to a helispot north of the Zion Ponderosa where a Life Flight Medical
ship was standing by. The group, which consisted of five friends
from Utah, Idaho and Colorado, had come to the area for a long weekend
of canyoneering. They had already successfully completed Spry and
Orderville Canyons inside Zion National Park. However, on their route
through Birch Hollow, they experienced what all canyoneers need to be
prepared for- something going wrong. The accident was caused by the
incorrect use of a technique referred to as simul-rappelling with a
non-experienced person on one side of the rope and Ms. Moses on the
other counterbalancing each other's weight. Simul-rappelling is
considered an advanced skill by many in the canyonneering community.
"Ms. Moses was still 40-60 feet from the bottom of the rappel when her
tandem partner touched down and apparently let go. This resulted in the
free fall of Moses to the canyon floor," said Cindy Purcell, Chief Park
Ranger at Zion National Park. Kane County Sheriff's Search and Rescue
team reports "we saw this exact accident happen at the same rappel in
Birch Hollow two years ago." The canyoneering party admitted to the
Rescuers that they were in the process of trying to pass another group
in the canyon and that their attention was divided between the task at
hand and their next move. They had also purposefully packed to be
"light because they didn't think anything bad would happen" according to
Ranger Medic Fitzgerald. They were not well prepared when trouble
struck. "Canyoneers need to have the ability to ascend ropes. They
should carry extra food, headlamps, and a water purification system in
case something goes wrong and they need to spend the night," said
Purcell. "It seemed this group relied on luck to be able to send
someone to make a cell phone call and they were indeed lucky that they
could get cell service. They were lucky too that the weather was not a
factor in flying, and that the short-haul helicopter was available."
Late the next day, July 1st, Kane County Sgt. Alldredge received a
telephone call reporting a second accident with injuries on the same
rappel in Birch Hollow. A 21 year old female from Oregon, new to
canyoneering and rappelling, had rappelled off the end of her rope and
fallen 20-25 feet. She sustained spinal and lower limb injuries. Ms.
Lindstrom-Demant was with one other individual when the accident. She
was the first to descend. The pair may have misjudged the length of the
rappel. Luckily, a second canyoneering party was able to hike out and
notify Kane County Dispatch about the injured female. Kane County, Zion
NP, and BLM and State Park Rangers quickly rendezvoused. The patient
was accessed, stabilized, raised out of the slot, and short hauled with
Medic to an awaiting Life Flight Medical Ship in an amazing span of 6 ½
hours. Both of these incidents were successful because of the great
working relationship of the numerous agencies involved.
Canyoneering and Rappelling have an inherent risk associated with them.
Sgt. Alldredge stated, "When you add haste and inexperience, it can
result in injury or even death. As the canyons of southern Utah and
Zion National Park grow in popularity, we urge everyone to come prepared
with the proper skills and equipment so their outings end successfully
and without mishap."
Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.