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Report ID# 115038

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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.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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.

 
2 missing from Grand Canyon rafting trip after flash flood

By: Associated Press

Posted at 8:53 AM, Jul 15, 2021

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Authorities are searching for two people who were on a river rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and went missing after a flash flood.

A park spokeswoman says authorities got a call Wednesday evening from someone on a commercial trip on the Colorado River saying people were injured and asking for emergency help. Park crews launched a search for at least two people who are missing.

The flood hit as people on the trip were camped at the mouth of a side canyon almost 40 miles from where their rafts launched.

The region that has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity has been hammered lately with more rain expected.

 

From Tom Martin via FB:

Two people are still missing and seven people have been evacuated this morning with serious injuries after a flash flood tore through a commercial river trip camped at the mouth of Tatahatso Wash around 6 pm last night. A severe thunderstorm moved through the area as per the URL below for the storm track from 3:30pm to 5:30pm MST July 14, 2021.
 
The group was camped at river mile 37.6 on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. National Park Service Search and Rescue teams are conducting operations this morning.
 
River runners are reminded to avoid the mouths of side canyons during the monsoon season. While these side canyon areas may provide camping, day hiking, and boat parking, there is a long history of injuries and fatalities in these areas during monsoon season. Thunder storms are forecast in northern Arizona through the rest of the week.
 
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of those who are missing.
 
 
Another One in a Million
 
Good Morning Friends and Family
 
For those of you unaware, on July 14 my husband Liam and myself were caught in a horrific flash flood event on day 2 of a Grand Canyon river trip. It was Liam and I's first Grand trip together, I was assisting the awesome crew and we had a truly unique and spectacular group of guests with us.
Our day 2 camp was carefully selected with weather in mind, away from drainages and pouroffs and the trip was making themselves comfortable in camp as the crew started preparing dinner. The clouds were building up and it started raining, then hailing heavily. The crew started moving guests to higher ground when Liam and I looked up and saw a massive cloud of Supai mud and rock darkening the sky above us. We knew there was no time to hesitate and quickly got as many of our group members onto the 2 motor boats as possible. Liam threw the engine in reverse and moved to the front of the boat to cut the bow line securing the boat to the shore. It was at this time that a huge rock came down and crushed the entire left side of my torso. I could not move anything but my arms so reached for two straps to hold onto. I was never going to let go. Liam, being a top notch rescue professional was able to quickly assess that I had sustained major injuries and internal bleeding and so was able to recruit the help of one of our guests to gently move me onto the large gas tank of the motor boat so we could escape the immediate area and search for the missing souls from our group.
 
The storm continued, keeping medical aide and evacuation from reaching us for several hours. Once paramedics were able to be dropped to the scene, I was moved to the shelter of an EZY UP at redbud beach and kept alive until evacuation was possible.
 
During this time I received great care from two guests, a RN and anesthesiologist. They watched me constantly, holding my hand , keeping me conscious and giving me water. Liam, busy with several other injured people would come by and tell me to keep holding on, and I did. For him, for me, for us. I have always been fascinated by how much humans can endure damage, and survive, or not. I wasn't sure how close I was to that line but I do believe my will made some difference in making through till evacuation.
 
AZ DPS was able to evacuate me around 3:00 AM July 15 to Flagstaff Medical Center where the ICU team leapt to action stabilizing and draining my damaged lungs, fixing my shattered pelvis and ribs with multiple surgeries, doing everything they could to keep me alive. My left kidney was crushed beyond repair.
 
Each day since, I have been seeing improvements, starting with being able to move my neck, arms and legs. It felt like I was just surviving for the first ten days or so, even just going to the bathroom was a lengthy and painful ordeal.
 
Today is a major stepping stone, I am moving from Flagstaff Medical Center to a local rehab facility where I will stay for 3-4 weeks in an intense regimen of physical therapy ( 3 hrs/day) to help return me to a condition where I can be somewhat self reliant again. I will be in a wheelchair for 2 months. I am excited for this next step, as it is showing my physical improvement, but also because I will be able to have many more visitors there including our puppy Bubbles. Please message or text me to come visit!
 
I want to extend my deepest thanks to Liam, for being my hero. I can't imagine what this experience would have been like if he had not been on the scene, or here to offer his unending love and support. Thank you to my family that dropped everything and flew out to be here and help me in any way they could. I can not say how much I am warmed by the outpouring of support from my friends and the river community. I look at your cards each morning and your sweet words give me motivation to work through the pain each day. I also have a very deep appreciation for AZRA, whom not only jumped to action in the rescue/evacuation process but continues to offer their compassion and support to Liam and I in any way they can. *PRICELESS*
 
With our monsoon this year continuing to create flash flood events in Grand Canyon I fear that more of our community can become damaged down there, a source of great anxiety for me each day as those storms roll in. Please make good decisions and take care of yourselves and your crew down there.
Lastly, I'd like to acknowledge that there was a soul lost in this accident, Rebecca Copeland. All of my love and compassion goes to her family in this tragedy.
I can only hope that her family are able to find peace that she was so happy and having fun in such a magical and spiritual place in her final days and hours. She was a joy to get to know in the first few days of our trip and her memory will always live on in both Liam and my hearts.

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