Man dies after falling 80 feet while rappelling in Southern Utah

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— A 38-year-old man died in a rappelling accident in Southern Utah Sunday morning despite efforts by several agencies to rescue him.

At approximately 11 a.m., officials received a report that someone had fallen while rappelling in Englestead Hollow, an area east of Zion National Park near Zion Ponderosa Resort, according to a statement issued by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

A man from New Hampshire had been hiking with four of his siblings, the Sheriff’s Office said, noting that the group had planned to hike down Englestead Hollow, which includes a series of rappels, and then through the Narrows into Zion National Park.

According to Canyoneering USA, Englestead Hollow is a “deep canyon with a dramatic start.”

The family was on the first rappel, which authorities said is about 300 feet long, when the man fell the last 80 feet to the rocky canyon below. The reason for the fall was not immediately known.

A medical helicopter from Classic Aviation in Kanab was dispatched to the location, but couldn’t land at the site because of trees, so it landed in an area nearby.

“These areas are remote and require a lot of technical expertise,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

The man was initially believed to have leg, hip and back injuries, and a doctor from another group of hikers was able to provide initial care, officials said.

A call for assistance was also made to the Utah Department of Public Service helicopter, which was in Garfield County and was able to quickly respond, according to the statement. The DPS helicopter lowered a crew member with a hoist, and that crew member cleared some trees so the helicopter could land.

The DPS helicopter then flew to the incident command post, picked up a nurse from the Classic Aviation crew and flew back to the cliff from which the family had rappelled.

The DPS helicopter then shuttled in two rope team members from Kane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and additional medical personnel from the Classic helicopter, the Sheriff’s Office said, noting that they all rappelled to the injured man.

A call was then made to the Zion National Park Search and Rescue requesting assistance from their rope rescue team. While the team was en route, the man died from his injuries despite the efforts of the rescue crews, officials said.

The Zion crew set up a system to raise the remaining family members, bystanders and search and rescue personnel out of the canyon.

The deceased man was then brought out of the canyon and taken to a mortuary for transport to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City. Authorities said the incident remains under investigation.

This incident was the second of its type in the same area within a short period of time, the Sheriff’s Office said.

On Aug. 25, rescue crews responded to a nearby canyon, Birch Hollow, for a person who had fallen approximately 100 feet while rappelling, officials said. That individual survived and was flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George after spending the night in the canyon with the rescue crew.

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

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