Accident Database

Report ID# 116112

  • PFD Not Worn or Present

Accident Description

Fatality occurred on river trip but does not appear to have occurred while boating. Water temp at Lees Ferry approx. 60ºF.

Grand Canyon National Park News Release. June 13, 2022.
Fatality on the Colorado River near Pipe Creek Beach
On June 11, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report of a passenger on a commercial river trip who had fallen into the Colorado River. Commercial guides were able to reach the woman by boat. The commercial guides pulled her from the river and began CPR.
National Park Service (NPS) search and rescue personnel responded and assisted with resuscitation efforts. All attempts to resuscitate the individual were unsuccessful. Park rangers were flown into the location by the park helicopter and pronounced the individual deceased.
The victim has been identified as 47-year old Sheetal Patel, originally of Chicago, Illinois, and most recently from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Patel was cooling off along Pipe Creek Beach, when she was caught by the current in the Colorado River. Patel hiked into the canyon to meet the river trip at Phantom Ranch, and was beginning a multi-day boating trip. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner. No additional information is available at this time.
Before heading down trail, hikers are strongly encouraged to read the Hiking Tips page and check the Backcountry Updates and Closures page for current information on inner canyon conditions. All visitors to Grand Canyon should ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids, resting in shade during the heat of the day, watching for signs of distress in traveling companions, and dressing appropriately for the weather, which includes light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. The NPS does not recommend hiking from the rim to the river and back in one day.
Tom Martin ia email: The backstory is just a little different than what the NPS reported. It was a blisteringly hot day. One commercial passenger went into seizures due to hyponatremia. Sheetal was close to the same state. The guides had an emergency to deal with in the other passenger, and they set Sheetal in the river to cool off and left her to deal with their other passenger's medical emergency. Sheetal apparently had a water bottle with her that started to float away. She reached after it and was swept downriver into Pipe Creek Rapid. 

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!