Spate of diving, UTV accidents has Sand Hollow State Park manager concerned for visitor safety

ST. GEORGE — Two separate incidents at Sand Hollow State Park have the park manager asking visitors to be careful, particularly as the season becomes milder and more people are expected to visit the park for the reservoir or its adjacent sand dunes.

The “jumping rocks” at Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, June 28, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

An incident that occurred Saturday afternoon involved an 18-year-old man who apparently hurt his back after diving off a formation popularly known as “the jumping rocks” at the reservoir around 12:30 p.m., Park Manager Jonathan Hunt said.

Following the incident, the man was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center for care.

The jumping rocks have experienced similar incidents in the past, and has prompted park officials asking visitors to be careful and use their best judgment as jumping into the water from the rocks can carry potential risks.

Another incident involving a man that had to be airlifted to the hospital occurred Friday evening around dusk, Hunt said.

Three people were riding in a side-by-side utility terrain vehicle on Sand Mountain when they hit a sand dune at a high rate of speed and caused the UTV to go airborne and roll several times.

The driver of the UTV, a 46-year-old St. George man, experienced a potential neck and back injury and was retrieved from the scene of the crash on Sand Mountain by the Washington County Search and Rescue Team. From there he was flown to the hospital by the Intermountain Life Flight helicopter.

File photo shows a Life Flight helicopter on Sand Mountain, Washington County, Utah, September 2017 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

The UTV’s remaining occupants did not require transportation to the hospital, Hunt said.

“We want to remind people to be safe,” Hunt said, noting that more people are expected to visit the state park during the fall.

People who ride in UTVs are encouraged to use seat belts and harnesses that come with their vehicles, Hunt said.

Helmets are also recommended, yet are not required under Utah law for those riding in side-by-side UTVs. However, they are required for ATV and motorcycle riders under 16 years old.

Sand dune flags on ATVs, UTVs and similar vehicles are required, Hunt said, adding that lit flags are also required once the sun sets.

Previous efforts by Utah State Parks have resulted in the launch of the “nobody is invincible” campaign that focuses on helmet and life jacket use while recreating.

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