Missing Person Recovered Below the Rim in Grand Canyon National Park

by Emily Morgan

Park rangers discovered the body of a missing man below the South Kaibab Trailhead in the Grand Canyon.

In a statement announced on Thursday, the park’s officials said they believed the recovered body was a 40-year-old Kentucky native named John Pennington.

The officials have not officially disclosed the identification; however, they have a strong feeling they have a positive match after finding evidence at the scene of the incident. In addition to Pennington rangers also located a motorcycle below the trailhead.

Local officials announced their search for Pennington on Feb. 28. They believed he entered Grand Canyon on or around Feb. 23 and abandoned his vehicle near Yaki Point. After days of searching, they discovered the body about 465 feet below the rim, officials said.

They then transported the body to the rim via helicopter and then went straight to the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Currently, the National Park Service, and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office are leading an investigation into the case.

Falling At The Grand Canyon: The Facts

According to the park’s official website, your odds of dying while visiting the Grand Canyon are 1 in 400,000. Falling is also not the most common death in the Grand Canyon. You’re much more likely to die from dehydration or heat exhaustion.

In 2015, of the 55 visitors who accidentally fell from the canyon’s rim, 39 were male. Eight of those were hopping from one rock to another or posing for pictures. Tragically, that included a 38-year-old father pretending to fall to scare his daughter, who then fell 400 feet to his death.

Per the website, about 12 deaths occur annually at the Grand Canyon. This number also accounts for those who died of natural causes, medical problems, suicide, heat, drowning, and traffic crashes. On average, two to three deaths per year are from falls, park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski says.

The park urges visitors to use caution when visiting the Grand Canyon. They encourage people to stick to the paved paths rather than venturing off the marked trails.

Furthermore, the largest danger with walking out on the rim is that though the ground may look stable, underneath it isn’t, meaning the ground below you is paper-thin due to erosion. As a result, you— and the rocks— could crumble at any moment.