Zion National Park Rangers Close Narrows After Hikers Swept Away in Flash Floods, One Still Missing

by Jon D. B.

Multiple hikers were swept off their feet by a flash flood in Zion National Park‘s Narrows, with one Arizona woman still missing.

Before 2:15 PM Friday, August 19, torrential rain struck the Zion Narrows. At that time, park officials received reports of several hikers becoming caught in flash flood waters in the visitor-favorite zone, which requires wading through Utah’s Virgin River to traverse.

Later into Friday evening. the National Park Service (NPS) received a report of a hiker overdue from his Narrows Trip. The Tuscon, Arizona native, Jetal Agnihotri, then became the subject of Zion Search & Rescue response. Park rangers monitored the river during the night, leading to the mobilization of additional searchers Saturday morning, Aug. 20.

Agnihotri is still missing. Over 20 Zion Search and Rescue Team members are working in and near the Virgin River searching for her.

“Park rangers and other members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team responded quickly to this event, and we are continuing our efforts,” Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent offers in their statement Sunday. “I want to express the park’s appreciation for the ongoing support we’ve received from the National Weather Service, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and Hurricane Valley Fire District as we continue search and rescue operations.”

Zion National Park’s Search & Rescue for Jetal Agnihotri Continues, Multiple Hikers Rescued

Over the weekend, park rangers were able to rescue an injured hiker from the flooding near the Temple of Sinawava. The visitor was “swept downstream several hundred yards,” but is now stable after NPS ambulance transport to the nearest hospital.

Several Zion rangers also hiked up Riverside Walk, where numerous other hikers were found isolated by high water. They awaited assistance on high ground, and rangers were able to direct them to remain in place until the water receded. As it did, each was assisted to safety.

Currently, two dozen Zion National Park rangers and S&R officials continue their monitoring of the Virgin River via flotation devices. If any more visitors are in the waters, officials hope to find them before it’s too late.

Visitors exiting from the Narrows and Riverside Walk areas were interviewed throughout the evening of August 19 to ensure they were not missing any party members. No further hikers were reported missing outside of Ms. Agnihotri.

“Zion rangers are monitoring the weather and continuing the park’s search and rescue efforts,” the national park’s statement concludes.

Need to Know Info as Rescue Efforts Continue

As officials continue to search for Ms. Agnihotri, search and rescue operations may affect visits to Zion National Park. As of August 20:

  • Riverside Walk and the Narrows are closed
  • Search and rescue operations are not currently affecting access to Angels Landing or most other destinations in Zion Canyon
  • Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail were already closed following rain on August 18 and remain so
  • Virgin River Narrows camping permits and top-down river hiking permits are canceled
  • Park shuttle buses in Zion Canyon are operating at stops between the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Grotto (Shuttle Stop #6) only.
    • In the town of Springdale, shuttles are operating on their normal route and stops

Outsider sends our best to the phenomenal rangers and Search & Rescue teams of Zion National Park, and to the family of Ms. Agnihotri during this search.

Outsider.com