Multi-agency rescue operation in Bryce Canyon saves hiker lost for 4 days

Bryce Canyon covered in snow, Bryce Canyon, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Ruby’s Inn/Bryce Canyon Country Tourism Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man was found injured and extremely dehydrated in Bryce Canyon Friday after a call from a worried family member prompted an extensive search effort on his behalf.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the family member of a 39-year-old man who had left his home in Jerome, Idaho, to hike through Bryce Canyon National Park, according to information posted on the agency’s Facebook page.

The caller said they had not heard from him since Monday and that he was driving a black Chevrolet Charger.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue teams and park rangers were called in to search for the missing hiker’s vehicle. The car was found Friday morning, but the hiker was nowhere to be found. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was launched for aerial assistance as ground crews continued scouring the park’s trails.

A few hours later in the early afternoon, rescuers found the missing hiker, who was suffering from dehydration, scrapes, cuts and bruises.

“He was in pretty bad shape,” Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Denise Dastrup told St. George News Saturday.

The hiker was treated by emergency crews, and after being helped out of the canyon, he was transported by ambulance to Garfield County Memorial Hospital in stable condition.

Bryce Canyon National Park, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The man had set out Monday wearing a T-shirt and shorts with one bottle of water to complete a two-hour hike on the Swamp Canyon Trail, Dastrup said, and was able to navigate the trails without any problems, at first.

At some point, he became lost and “basically wandered around for the next four days trying to find a way out of the canyon” until he was found by search teams Friday, Dastrup said.

“He literally had no idea where he was,” she said.

Bryce Canyon covers an area of more than 59 square miles.

The man told rescuers he drank from various streams but went without food until he was found.

Despite the difficulties and harsh weather conditions that included some snow, Dastrup said the search ended successfully with the man found and safely admitted to the hospital.

While the hiker was located before the Department of Public Safety helicopter arrived to provide aerial assistance, Dastrup said she appreciated the agency’s willingness to help in these kinds of situations.

“They are a great agency to work with,” she said.

After the rescue, the following comments were posted on behalf of Garfield County Sheriff James D. Perkins:

He cannot stress how grateful he is to all the volunteer search and rescue members, the Bryce Canyon park rangers and the Department of Public Safety Helicopter for their diligent efforts in helping those in need.

Perkins also reminded anyone visiting or hiking in the area to “know the area, get maps and be prepared for any condition.”

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