Crews rescue man caught in quicksand in Zion National Park during frigid storms

Zion National Park in the winter. | Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man who became stuck in quicksand in Zion National Park was saved Sunday after a two-day rescue operation.

Park rangers responded on report of a 34-year-old Arizona man whose leg was stuck in quicksand in the middle of a creek Saturday afternoon. He was located approximately three hours up the Left Fork of the North Creek, also known as The Subway route, from bottom-up.

According to a news release issued by the National Park Service, the man had hiked up the trail with his female companion, who initially tried to help him out of the quicksand but was unsuccessful. She left him with warm gear and hiked for three hours before she was able to get cell phone service and call for help.

Zion Search and Rescue teams immediately assembled and began hiking to the man’s location. Rangers found the woman close to the trailhead and tended to her, as she was exhibiting signs of hypothermia from the long hike out.

Rangers found the man several hours later. He was stable but suffering from exposure, hypothermia and extremity injuries.

After two hours, rangers managed to free him from the quicksand late in the night and began efforts to rewarm him and treat his leg. Crews spent the night with the patient in frigid conditions as 4 inches of snow fell overnight.

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was dispatched to the scene from Salt Lake City Sunday morning.

Ongoing winter storms caused low visibility all morning, prohibiting the helicopter from reaching the patient. When a small break in the weather occurred in the afternoon, the helicopter crew was finally able to safely extricate the patient via a hoist rescue operation.

The patient was flown to an awaiting ambulance and then transported to the hospital.

Winter conditions at Zion National Park can be extreme, especially in the higher elevations.

According to the National Park Service, colder temperatures, shorter days, snow, ice and cold run-off can make easy hikes difficult and strenuous ones treacherous. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution during poor weather events at Zion.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

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