ZION NATIONAL PARK – Two groups of people from two different states were helped from The Subway in Zion National Park Monday night after losing their way, joining forces and calling for help.
The first call was received at 9:15 p.m., Darrell Cashin, Washington County Sheriff’s deputy and search and rescue liaison, said.
A 53-year-old man and 47-year-old woman from Ohio had lost their way while hiking in the area. A 60-year-old man and his son, both of New Jersey, also became lost while hiking.
The two groups did not know each other, although they had met briefly on the trail in the morning and then parted ways.
“Both groups ended up getting lost for about three hours in there,” Cashin said.
The couple from Ohio were looking for a side canyon within The Subway, Cashin said. The father and son from New Jersey were hiking back and could not find the way out of The Subway.
“They thought they missed the exit, but what happened is they didn’t actually get far enough down,” he said.
The father and son were still further north than the exit to The Subway.
“So the two different groups ended up finding each other,” Cashin said. “All of them were lost, but they ended up finding each other.”
Staying together at that point was a smart move for the four hikers, Cashin said.
The group was wet and cold from rappelling and had also run out of water. With the 60-year-old man getting weak, shivering and becoming hypothermic, Cashin said, they decided to call for help.
The group tried multiple locations before they were able to make contact with emergency responders by cellphone. Once contact was made, they were able to give GPS coordinates, which, although inaccurate, helped rescuers find the general area.
Dispatch was able to make contact with the group again and verify that they were in The Subway. The rescue team hiked in and found the hikers 2 miles from the Left Fork Trailhead.
All four people were able to hike out with rescuers, and the operation was wrapped up by 2 a.m. Tuesday.
A team of six search and rescue volunteers responded to the incident, along with Washington County Sheriff’s Office personnel.
This was the second long night and successful rescue for the SAR team, which spent Sunday night rescuing two hikers in Snow Canyon State Park. Both rescues ended well.
“That’s two in a row,” Cashin said. “So hopefully people will take notice and realize that it’s getting darker earlier … it’s getting colder, and they need to get a little bit more prepared for those situations where it may take them longer than they think and they end up there after dark or without enough supplies, or both.”
The rescued hikers were reasonably well prepared, Cashin said, but they ran out of supplies because they became lost. One couple had run out of water but were using filtering straws to drink from the creek. Cashin said they had wet suits and enough clothing but were still becoming chilled as the temperature dropped in the canyon.
“Even though it’s cooler at this time of year, you need just as much water as if it were midsummer,” Cashin said, “because as your body gets cold, it uses more energy to try to stay warm. So you need just as much fluid, even when it gets colder.”
This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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