Accident Database

Report ID# 3309

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Two men aboard raft made of logs killed in Zion

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 04/26/2010 04:59:29 PM MDT

Two men from Nevada have died in Zion National Park after trying to navigate the Virgin River on a makeshift raft. The raft was made of logs, said park spokesman Ron Terry, and the two men, both in their 20s, put into the river without seeking a permit from park rangers. The men were trying to navigate the river through the stretch known as The Narrows. Terry said the Virgin River was flowing at least 200 cubic feet per second through The Narrows -- fast enough that someone could not stand up in the water. Neither man appears to have been wearing a flotation device, Terry said.

Terry said the men were from the Las Vegas area, but their names were not disclosed Monday afternoon. The men were reported overdue on Sunday morning and a search began later that day. The first body was located in the north fork of the Virgin River, near the gateway to The Narrows, around 9 a.m., according to a news release from the National Park Service. A few hours later, the second body was discovered near the Big Bend shuttle stop, about two miles downstream. Terry said anyone wanting a permit to travel that stretch of the Virgin River must be aboard a craft capable of navigating white water. Typically, that's a kayak, Terry said. Terry said a medical examiner will determine what killed the men.


ST. GEORGE – Authorities pulled another body out of the Virgin River in Zion National Park this afternoon, after another was discovered at approximately 9 a.m. this morning. The second body was near the Big Bend shuttle stop in the park, downstream from where authorities found the first man, in the north fork of the Virgin River, near the Gateway to the Zion Narrows.

The bodies were found a day after the National Park Service received notification from a family member that two men who had planned to float through the Narrows on a raft were overdue from their expected Saturday afternoon finish time. The men were not located on Sunday, and the search continued today, using helicopters and ground searchers. A medical examiner and investigator from the Washington County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the scene today, as is standard procedure with fatalities in the park.

Neither of the two bodies had been identified as of 3 p.m. The two missing men are from Nevada and in their 20s, said Ron Terry, spokesperson for the Park Service. Terry said the Narrows was closed to hikers because the waterway was carrying more than 200 CFS (cubic feet per second) on Saturday, and 451 CFS Monday, more than the 140 CFS considered safe. The trail is open to kayakers up to 600 CFS if they have a permit – neither of the missing men had one.

Two missing rafters' bodies pulled from Narrows in Zion National Park
Published: Monday, April 26, 2010 9:10 p.m. MDT

ZION NATIONAL PARK - The bodies of two rafters who have been missing since
Saturday were pulled from the river in the Narrows area of Zion National
Park on Monday.

About 9 a.m., a body was discovered in the North Fork of the Virgin River
near the Gateway to the Zion Narrows, according to a prepared statement from
park officials.

About 1:40 p.m., a second body was found in the river about two miles below
where the first was found, said park spokesman Ron Terry.

At the same time the first body was discovered, a search and rescue
operation was under way for two men who were overdue from their planned trip
to float through the Zion Narrows on a raft Saturday afternoon.

Two men, both in their 20s and from Nevada, reportedly set off on a raft
made of logs along the the Narrows, Terry said. It was reported that their
intent was to hike to the confluence with Deep Creek, construct a log raft
and float through the Narrows. The men did not have a permit from the park
to be on the river as is required when the water level is running as high as
it currently is, he said.

At the time, the north fork of the Virgin River was running about 250 cubic
feet per second with water temperatures of 40 degrees.

"They did not talk with rangers," Terry said.

Family members of the men contacted park officials after they became overdue
from their trip. The men were supposed to finish the 47-50 mile trip on
Saturday afternoon in Hurricane, Washington County.

The victims didn't have any cold water gear or personal flotation devices
and carried little food with them. According to the park, had the men
checked in with park rangers, they would not have received a permit due to
inappropriate planning and lack of personal safety equipment.

Park officials have reopened all areas of Zion Canyon that were temporarily
closed during the search and body recoveries. The Washington County
Sheriff's office is investigating the incident in cooperation with National
Park Service, which is standard procedure in the case of a fatality in the

The names of the victims are being witheld pending all family members being

- Pat Reavy and Lana Groves

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