Body discovered in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve identified as missing hiker

Stock photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Utah’s Office of the Medical Examiner has positively identified the human remains discovered August 19 in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve to belong to a Washington City man reported missing weeks earlier.

The remains found in the reserve were identified as 34-year-old Dale Barker Purdy, reported missing July 14, at which time a missing persons report was was filed with the Washington City Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse said.

Crouse went on to say that the medical examiner has ruled the death an accident, and “it appears that it was caused by a fall.”

In August when the remains were discovered investigators hypothesized that the man may have died from a fall, due to the terrain and location where the body was discovered.

Read more: Hikers discover human remains in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. 

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a 62,000 acre wildlife reserve and spans across the north central portion of Washington County. It is approximately 20 miles wide and 6 miles deep and includes numerous trails that vary in difficulty from easy to extremely strenuous.

For hikers, the area can present significant challenges that include extreme heat during the summer, lack of shade or water, deep sandy soils, rocky inclines with steep drop-offs, as well as lightning, flash floods, wild animal encounters and unapproved user trails, according to the Red Hills Desert Reserve. 

The discovery was made in the area of the Washington Hollow Trail, a 12-mile trail route that takes the hiker down into a dry wash before they encounter a series of dry falls that are “too difficult for most to continue,” according to reserve information.

The incident began on Saturday, August 19, when an individual hiking in the area called 911 to report that they had discovered possible human remains, and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives were then dispatched to the Washington Hollow Trail area to investigate the report.

Upon arrival they found a male body that appeared to be in an advanced state of decomposition, and police called in search and rescue crews that recovered the body before it was sent to the medical examiner for identification and autopsy to determine the cause of death, Crouse said in the August interview.

Those results were then released to officials.

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

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments January 16, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    I feel for him.. it’s not that hard to get killed out there. I been there… almost killed i mean

    • ladybugavenger January 17, 2018 at 7:49 am

      And yet, you didn’t die and are left with the question, “why?” It’s ok Bob, one day you’ll know why you were left behind. Just think, if you died in your “atheism” and stood before God on judgment day, where would you go? Exactly, you got another chance, praise the Lord!

      • comments January 17, 2018 at 1:42 pm

        i dont know, LB. dont know whats gonna happen…..

  • Foxyheart January 17, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Wow, found on Aug 19 and it took 6 months to report on who it was. Very timely reporting.

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