ST. GEORGE — A woman was taken by Intermountain Life Flight to the hospital Saturday after sustaining injuries following a jump into a pool at the area known as the Gunlock Falls.
Around 4 p.m., a 37-year-old Las Vegas woman visiting Gunlock State Park jumped into a pool formed from the falls created by the Gunlock Reservoir spillway.
Instead of landing in a part of the pool that can be between 10 and 14 feet deep, Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin said she likely landed on an unseen boulder in the pool.
Cashin, the Sheriff’s Office liaison to the Washington County Search and Rescue team, said they were alerted to the incident shortly after 4 p.m. They responded to the scene along with Utah State Parks rangers, Ivins City EMS and additional sheriff’s deputies.
The woman was unconscious for between 20 seconds to two minutes in the pool, Cashin said, adding that someone also jumped in and swam her to the shore and called 911. The woman was complaining of neck and back pain.
The search and rescue team was brought in after it was determined the woman needed to be raised up a cliff side in order to be placed in a waiting ambulance. When they arrived, Cashin said members of the team saw several cars – many parked along the road side – that were from California and Nevada.
“Those states are shut down, so they’re all coming here.” Cashin said.
The number of people at the state park, which Cashin estimated to be several hundred, were originally in the way of recovery efforts until park rangers and deputies were able to push the crowds back. While the search and rescue team was able set up a high-angle rise for the injured woman uninterrupted by the crowds, the entire area remained covered in people.
“There must have been hundreds and hundreds of people at the falls,” Cashin said. “We couldn’t keep people away and we could hardly control it.”
A doctor attached to the search and rescue team was rappelled down to the injured woman who examined her before she was raised up the cliffside by the search and rescue team. By this time, the Life Flight helicopter had been called in order to fly the woman to Dixie Regional Medical Center.
“We raised her up the side, Life Flight was called, we put her in and they flew her to the hospital,” Cashin said.
The woman was flown to the hospital with possible neck, shoulder and back injuries, Cashin added.
The location where the woman was injured is the same where a 35-year-old man was killed after jumping into the same pool last year.
Visits to the outdoors has increased since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic as people seek to escape being cooped up at home. Now that Utah has eased visitation restrictions on its state parks, people from other states still under lockdown are coming to Utah to recreate.
“I’ve never seen Gunlock as full as it is,” Cashin said, adding, “and nobody was social distancing.”
Cashin estimated this is the 48th call the county search and rescue team has responded to so far this year.
The county search and rescue team was donated several reusable masks, and Cashin said they have enough N95 masks to last another month or two depending on how many more calls the search and rescue team respond to between now and then.
“My guys do the best they can,” Cashin said, “but when you have that many people, you’re walking through them. There’s no way around. You just have to get them.”
Reporter Hollie Reina contributed to this story.
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