31-year-old pronounced dead after being lowered from rope in Zion National Park; 2 people rescued

Clouds hang over Zion National Park, Utah, March 20, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two people were rescued and one person was pronounced dead in Zion National Park over the weekend.

2020 file photo of Springdale entrance of Zion National Park. Zion National Park, Utah, Feb. 22, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

Over the weekend, the Zion National Park Technical Search and Rescue Team responded to an emergency call at the exit of Heaps Canyon, according to a press release issued by the park. Rescuers found two people who were canyoneering stranded on a rock perch about 280 feet above Upper Emerald Pools.

They also found one man suspended from a rope about 260 feet above the pool (20 feet below the perch). The man who was suspended, 31-year-old Andrew Arvig of Chesapeake, Virginia, was lowered to the ground and later pronounced deceased by a doctor, the news release states. The search and rescue team assisted the other two people with rappelling safely to the ground.

Authorities say the group started their trip early on the morning of Saturday and had been following their permitted itinerary through Heaps Canyon. They reportedly had difficulty negotiating the last few rappels in the canyon which delayed their exit.

Arvig, the first to exit Heaps Canyon, rappelled past a small rock ledge where he needed to land and re-anchor his rope in order to then rappel the remaining distance to the ground, according to the release. The other members of the group used their “pull line” to rappel to the perch.

Arvig was reportedly unable to ascend the 20 feet back to the perch. Rangers began rescue operations early Sunday morning when the two on the perch contacted Washington County Dispatch by cell phone after several failed attempts to connect because of poor reception.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service are still investigating the cause of Arvig’s death.

“All of us at Zion National Park extend our sympathy to the Arvig family for their tragic loss,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in the news release.

Arvig grew up in Southern Utah and was a Hurricane High School graduate. He was commissioned as an army officer from Dixie State University.

The park’s response involved more than 30 rescuers including a technical rescue team, a helicopter dispatched from Grand Canyon National Park and a Life Flight helicopter and crew from St. George

The Upper and Middle Emerald Pools Trails, which had been closed due to rescue operations, are now open.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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