Zion rock slide injures 1; separate hiker breaks leg at same time

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Emergency crews in Zion National Park were spread thin Monday evening when a rock slide injured a teenage hiker while another man was simultaneously hurt in a nearby slot canyon.

An ambulance from Rockville/Springdale Fire District rushes to the hospital after a teenage girl was injured in a rock slide at Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, July 3, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Emergency and medical personnel responded to the first incident involving a rock slide on the Riverside Walk trail near the popular Narrows hike after a shuttle driver reported the incident just after 6:30 p.m.

Watch video top of this report.

“It sounded like it was a really bad slide, and we have a lot of visitors in the park today,” park spokesman John Marciano said in an interview with St. George News.

The initial report indicated multiple injured persons and included a large response from multiple agencies.

“It sounded a lot worse than it actually was after it was assessed,” Marciano said.

Responders arrived at the location of the rock slide about five minutes up the Riverside Walk trail where it ends and the Narrows hike begins. Only one person, the teenage girl, was confirmed to be injured. She suffered a leg injury and was transported by ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Emergency crews tend to a a man who was injured while hiking in a slot canyon in Zion National Park, Utah, July 3, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“We wanted to err on caution,” Marciano said, “so we sent a lot of people out – and that was the right thing to do.”

Another call for help came in shortly after the rock slide incident, involving a man believed to have broken his leg while hiking in a slot canyon in the Orderville Canyon area.

“We were spread very thin all of the sudden,” Marciano said, “so, it was good we sort of overreacted and erred on the side of caution sending everyone out.”

Marciano said the rescue resources available to the park can only be stretched so far.

“People are responsible for their own safety when they’re here at the park,” he said. “They need to look out for themselves because we only have so many people. We have only so many medics … and guys with search and rescue capabilities – climbing capabilities, litter-carrying capabilities – and if they’re on a search and rescue when someone gets hurt, they have to wait.”

Emergency crews tend to a a man who was injured while hiking in a slot canyon in Zion National Park, Utah, July 3, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Visitors are advised to make proper preparations when visiting the park, including practicing proper heat safety by staying hydrated, seeking shade and keeping a practical pace. The park also encourages using the buddy system, advising visitors not to hike alone when unexpected events like rock slides occur.

“We’re in a geologically active park, and whether it’s raining, snowing, there’s a thaw or there’s a torrential storm or it’s a beautiful day like today, the park is active,” Marciano said. “It’s a living, breathing canyon, and those kind of things happen, so we’re ready to respond when it does.”

Several agencies responded to assist with the rescue effort, including the National Park Service, Zion National Park Search and Rescue, Springdale Police Department, Rockville/Springdale Fire District and Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • DB July 4, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    “The park also encourages using the buddy system, advising visitors not to hike alone when unexpected events like rock slides occur.” I’ll play Devil’s Advocate. Is it REALLY possible to hike alone at Zion anymore, at least in the Summer? I won’t venture there until mid September at the least. I was at Rocky Mountain NP a week ago and went on a popular four mile hike. I’d say that at least one hundred hikers passed by me going the other direction. Did they know something I didn’t? No, it was just the usual traffic flow.

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