Body of missing Alabama hiker found in Spooky Gulch

File photo from 2013 shows inside the cockpit of the Utah DPS helicopter in Kane County, Utah, Aug. 26, 2013 | Photo courtesy of the Kane County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE An Alabama man hiking with family was found dead after the group became disoriented and then separated while hiking Tuesday in the Spooky Gulch area in Kane County.

The body of 62-year-old Lane Friedman of Alabama was located shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday by a helicopter pilot with the Utah Department of Public Safety during a search that was initiated the night before, Kane County Police Chief Deputy Alan Alldredge said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

The incident began on Tuesday when Friedman set out on a hike in the slot canyons of Spooky Gulch, along with his wife and two children during a visit to the area.

The group decided to discontinue the hike once they came to a rocky spot in the canyon. While trying to return to the trailhead they became disoriented and made some wrong turns, according to the statement.

The two children then became ill hiking in the hot temperatures so the family decided to rest under the shade of several trees. Shortly afterward Friedman decided to hike to the top of a nearby hill to “get his bearings and see which way to go,” and he set off alone.

“That was the last time Mrs. Friedman saw her husband,” Alldredge said.

Once Mrs. Freidman and the children felt rested the trio began hiking out of the canyon and eventually made it back to the family’s vehicle that was parked at the Dry Fork Trailhead. There the woman borrowed a phone from nearby hikers and called authorities for help.

A Garfield County deputy responded, but by then it was late in the evening which made a ground search unsafe with nightfall fast approaching.

Instead a search was scheduled for Wednesday morning, along with helicopter support from the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The helicopter arrived at 9 a.m. and began searching until the missing man’s body was discovered four hours later. The flight crew confirmed that Friedman was deceased and transported his body to Escalante.

Once in Escalante a medical investigator with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office responded to continue the investigation, Alldredge said. The body will later be transported to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Utah Department of Public Safety assisted in the search and recovery.

“The Kane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Department of Public Safety for their assistance in this incident,” Alldredge said.

The chief deputy also cautioned anyone visiting the many canyons in the area to come prepared for hot, dry weather. Preparations should include plenty of water, wearing appropriate clothing and bringing emergency supplies.

Alldredge encouraged the use of a GPS unit and suggested visitors consider bringing a GPS locator device along with them. Most cell phones come installed with GPS technology, but in remote locations cell service may not be available.

Spooky Gulch is a short slot canyon hike of just over 3 miles and is located 26 miles south of Escalante in Kane County. While the opening to the slot canyon is wide and dark, it closes up within only a few hundred feet into the canyon. This can make it difficult for normal-sized adults to pass through, according to information from Utah.com. 

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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