Ohio Men Perish in UT/AZ Outback
On Sunday (May 21), a member of the Kane County Search & Rescue Team, who also works as a back-country guide contacted Kane County Sheriff's Office to report that his group had found a deceased man while hiking along the Paria River between White House and Lee's Ferry.
The location was estimated to be about a quarter mile south of the Utah/Arizona line. Kane County Sheriff contacted the Coconino County Sheriff's Department and the two agencies conducted a joint recovery operation. With the help of a Utah Public Safety helicopter, the body was located and transported to the trailhead, then taken to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's office.
Monday morning, Kane County Dispatch received a call from the Westchester Ohio Police Department reporting two overdue male hikers. The families last heard from the men on Saturday, around 3pm. The men had plans to hike Buckskin Gulch, but family members had not heard back from either of them.
Pictures provided by the families helped identify the deceased man as 65-year-old Gary York of Westchester Township, Ohio.
Once aware of another missing hiker, Kane County Search and Rescue initiated an immediate search of the Buckskin Gulch area, working downstream toward the junction of the Paria River. Monday, around 6pm, searchers located the body of 72-year-old John Walter of Kettering, Ohio.
Further investigation indicated flash flooding in Buckskin Gulch at about the time the two men would have been hiking in the area. It is believed the two were caught by surprise, and swept away by the sudden flood. Mr. York was carried close to 10 miles downstream; Mr Walter as much as 7 miles.
It is the same area that two Florida men were killed by flooding in March of this year.
The Kane County Sheriff's Department offered its condolences to the York and Walter families and warned hikers of the "relentless power and danger of flash flooding in Kane County's slot canyons."
(Photos: courtesy Kane County Sheriff's Department)