ST. GEORGE —A woman hiking with her family in Labyrinth Canyon at Lake Powell on Saturday died after drowning in a flash flood.
On Saturday at 6 p.m. the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and National Park Service responded to Labyrinth Canyon on Lake Powell after receiving information of a possible flash flood drowning. Deputies responding to the Labyrinth Canyon area were advised that a woman hiking with her family had drowned as a result of flooding in the popular slot canyon.
According to a press release issued by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the victim, Heather S. Rutledge a 43-year-old female out of Louisville, Kentucky, was hiking the Labyrinth Canyon with her husband and three sons at approximately 2 p.m. when she and her family were caught in a flash flood that ultimately drowned Rutledge.
The husband and children were ultimately able to locate her and performed CPR but were unsuccessful. Family members unable to move her, had to make their way back to the boat they had rented and get help, the release states.
Officials say once back at the rental boat, they discovered it had been damaged by the flash flood and was undrivable. A boater in the area was able to tow the boat out to the mouth of Labyrinth Canyon where contact was made with a park service boat, who then transported the victim’s family back to Antelope Point Marina where rescuers were preparing to locate and recover Rutledge.
Due to weather conditions, darkness and the potential of another flash flood, recovery operations were put off until Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning at 6 a.m., Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies along with park service rangers drove by boat to the area in Labyrinth Canyon that the victim and her family had stopped. Due to flood debris, rescuers could not use the kayaks to get up the rest of the canyon and had to swim through heavy canyon debris, to locate the deceased.
Once located, she was removed back to the boat and transported to Wahweap Marina where the Coconino County Medical Examiner took custody and transported her back to Flagstaff.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office expressed a special thanks for the invaluable assistance from the National Parks Service in this matter. Further investigation into this incident is being conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.
No further information is available currently. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office recommends knowing the forecast in around the area when you are participating in recreational activities in canyon country.
The Sheriff’s Office reminds recreators that flash floods can start many miles up canyon from where they are recreating.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.