Park: Michigan Woman Dies in Grand Canyon Flash Flood
Grand Canyon National Park officials on Friday identified a 29-year-old Michigan woman as the person found dead in frigid water after a flash flood swept through a commercial rafting group’s overnight camp site along the Colorado River.
By Associated Press
July 16, 2021
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — Grand Canyon National Park officials on Friday identified a Michigan woman as the person found dead in frigid water after a flash flood swept through a commercial rafting group's overnight camp site along the Colorado River. Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, was found Thursday near the camp washed away Wednesday evening by a torrent of water that rushed through a slot canyon, park officials said in a statement.
Copeland was a passenger on a commercial rafting group that had set up its overnight camp at an established site about a quarter of a mile (0.40 kilometer) from the slot canyon, National Park Service spokeswoman Kaitlyn Thomas told The Associated Press. A different commercial rafting group found Copeland and that group also found an uninjured second person who also had been reported missing, the statement said.
Five injured people, including one in critical condition, were evacuated by air from the canyon, the statement said. Their identities weren't released. The injured were “very seriously bludgeoned by debris," Thomas said.
Thomas said she didn't know whether the other group that found Copeland and the uninjured person was actively searching for them at the time. “I am confident that the river community did know something was up but I imagine they were on the lookout."
The National Park Service was investigating the incident in coordination with the Coconino County medical examiner, the statement said.
The flood hit the camp set up about 40 miles (64 kilometers) downstream from where the rafts launched at Lees Ferry near the Arizona-Utah state line, turning the normally greenish-colored river into a muddy brown. Forecasters had issued a flash flood watch for the area Wednesday, but it wasn't clear whether the rafting guides were aware.
The flood was part of monsoon storms that have inundated Arizona this week, including in Flagstaff where streets in some areas were left a muddy mess as water mixed with logs and debris swept through. The entire Southwest, which has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity, has been hammered lately with storms. More rain is in the forecast.
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Flash flooding sweeps Arizona; 1 rafter dead in Grand Canyon
The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — One person who went missing from a Colorado River rafting trip in the Grand Canyon during a flash flood was found dead Thursday in frigid water while a second person was found alive, a park spokeswoman said. The flood was part of monsoon storms that have inundated Arizona this week, including in Flagstaff where city streets were left a muddy mess as water mixed with logs and debris swept through. Cleanup was underway Thursday with the threat of more rain looming.
At the Grand Canyon, a torrent of water rushed through a slot canyon and washed away the camp where two commercial rafts with 30 passengers pulled off the river to stay Wednesday evening, said Grand Canyon spokeswoman Joelle Baird.
Authorities initially believed that two people had been swept into the river and launched a search by air, ground and water to find them. One was found at the camp that the group had abandoned to seek a safer place to sleep, Baird said. The other was found dead in the water next to the camp that flooded, she said.
The motorized trip operated by Arizona Raft Adventures was scheduled to last more than a week. A company spokeswoman on Thursday referred questions to John Dillon, the executive director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association that represents the outfitters permitted in the canyon. Dillon said he hasn’t yet spoken to company officials, one of whom is on another trip on the river. He said while the outfitters were pleased to hear one rafter was found, they’re saddened by the death of the other.“Our hearts our broken that people on the trip lost somebody, people at home lost somebody,” he said. “That matters more than anything else.”
A park helicopter took two paramedics to the river late Wednesday to treat and stabilize the injured rafters after receiving a satellite phone call from someone on the trip asking for help. Seven passengers who were injured were airlifted out of the canyon, Baird said. She wasn’t sure of the extent of their injuries. Baird said the park will help the other rafters who want to cut their trip short get off the river, she said.
The flood hit the camp set up about 40 miles (64 kilometers) downstream from where the rafts launched at Lees Ferry near the Arizona-Utah state line, turning the normally greenish-colored river into a muddy brown. Forecasters had issued a flash flood watch for the area Wednesday, but it’s not clear whether the rafting guides were aware. Radar showed about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain along that stretch of the Colorado River, according to the National Weather Service.