Tourists discover body of motorcyclist in steep ravine in the Gorge

A Harley Davidson motorcycle is found down an embankment off of I-15 near mile marker 24, Mohave County, Ariz., March 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

ST. GEORGE A biker’s remains were discovered Wednesday evening 100 feet down a steep canyon off Interstate 15 in Mohave County, Arizona, by two visitors who stopped to take photos near the banks of the Virgin River.

Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers respond to a fatal motorcycle crash off I-15 near mile marker 24, Mohave County, Ariz., March 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

At sundown two men visiting the area from Washington state were passing through the Virgin River Gorge on I-15 and stopped near mile marker 24 to check the water level of the Virgin River and take photos, Arizona Highway Patrol Sgt. John Bottoms said.

As the pair made their way down the steep cliffs they noticed a small light shining in the distance.

“This wasn’t a headlight either,” Bottoms said. “It was one of those tiny indicator engine lights in the middle of the motorcycle’s handlebars.”

The men crawled across the rocks of the steep embankment following the light, which they discovered was coming from a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Looking further, they saw the rider, a man in his early 40s, lying on the rocks about 30 to 40 feet away who was “obviously deceased.”

The men climbed out of the canyon and drove to an area where there was cell service to call 911.

Responders from the Arizona Department of Public Safety made their way down to where the biker was located and soon realized they were ill-equipped to retrieve the remains from the deep canyon due to the saturated ground, slippery boulders, complete darkness and the treacherous path to where the body was located.

St. George Firefighters and Washington County Search and Rescue respond to a canyon off I-15 near mile marker 24 to retrieve the body of motorcyclist, Mohave County, Ariz., March 6, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, St. George News

“You could not see the motorcycle or the rider from the highway,” Bottoms said. “Even if someone had stopped and looked over the edge there’s no way they would have been able to see him because of the way he was positioned on the rock.

The St. George Fire Department was dispatched to the scene along with a specialized high-angle rope rescue team with Washington County Search and Rescue and, working with Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire crews, was able to retrieve the body.

“Those guys operated very proficiently, from start to finish and were able to get the body out of the canyon very quickly,” Bottoms said.

The remains were then transported to the Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office, which on Thursday provided “a tentative identification for the rider,” Bottoms said, adding the information still needed to be verified before next of kin can be located and contacted.

“Because the last thing I want to do is to ask a trooper or deputy from another state or region to make notification for us and then it turns out to be the wrong person.”

From the evidence found at the scene, it appeared the rider was heading south on I-15 and “for reasons that are completely unknown,” went off the roadway to the right.

The bike left the asphalt, launched off the cliff and crashed near the bottom of the canyon more than 100 feet below.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire and Rescue, St. George Fire Department and Washington County Search and Rescue responded and assisted with the scene.

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

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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