Zion Park names hikers killed in flooding

Published 7:57 am Friday, September 18, 2015

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah — Hours after rescuers traversed a 100-foot drop into a rugged Utah area to find the seventh victim of a flash flood, Zion National Park officials released the names of all those killed.

The hikers — six from California and one from Nevada — died when fast-moving floodwaters rushed through a narrow park canyon Monday afternoon.

Late Thursday night, the park listed the California fatalities as Mark MacKenzie, 56, of Valencia; Linda Arthur, 57, and Steve Authur, 58, both of Camarillo; Gary Favela, 51, of Rancho Cucamonga; Muku Reynolds, 59, of Chino; and Robin Brum, 53, of Camarillo. The seventh flooding victim was Don Teichner, 55, of Mesquite, Nevada.

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Park officials said Linda Arthur’s body was found earlier Thursday a few miles from the sandstone gorge where the group got trapped during a violent rainstorm, in an area that had been unreachable previously amid fears of more flooding. The rest of the victims were found earlier this week.

Some in the group were new to rappelling and were swimming through narrow canyons in a sport called canyoneering, but park policy prevents rangers from assessing their skill level or stopping them from going, even after repeated warnings of the flood risk Monday.

The park is investigating what led to the deaths and reviewing its policies, but the process for canyon entry permits is decided at the national level and any changes would likely need to come from the top down, park spokesman David Eaker said.

“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those affected by the flash flooding in Keyhole Canyon,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said Thursday night. “The canyoneers along with their families and friends are in our thoughts.”

The flash flooding also killed at least 12 other people, including nine children, in a nearby polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border. Raging waters swept two cars downstream, leaving a 6-year-old boy still missing. Three other children survived.