Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Deaths & Rescues in Zion (Excerpt)

Full book available @ dnally.com


​by Bo Beck

Many people ask me about my personal history, and how I got started with
Zion’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team, and what is it that we do. I
ultimately moved to the Saint George, Utah area in 1990, and fell in
love with the environment after I took some Boy Scouts down the
Subway on an adventure. We were “hiking with ropes,” and that
intrigued me. I realized that this kind of hiking and exploring would
limit the number of people who would be able to see some of the
places like these that I saw, unless they had the skills and
equipment to do it. 

I always enjoyed hiking, backpacking, and the outdoors since the time I
was a 14-year-old teenage boy growing up in Albuquerque. That is when
I had my first job at an outdoor store repairing skis, bicycles,
backpacks, and camping gear. Several years later, I got a job with a
company building hang glider frames. I flew my first hang glider as a
teenager, and was hooked on it. This is what contributed to my
adventurous spirit, and probably led me to join the Air Force in
1975, when I was 19 years old. 

In the Air Force, I learned to rock climb, rappel, and later on
parachute from Huey’s. It was there that they recruited me to
become an instructor of Global Survival. I was trained to teach
survival skills, along with tactical escape and evasion. The
attrition rate for instructors was quite high (66%), due to the tests
and rigors of the environment; but I passed. Every three weeks I
would get a group of eight to twelve aircrew members, and I would
teach them for three days the basics of escape and evasion, food
procurement, navigation, knots, and medical techniques. Then we would
go up into the woods for five days and practice those skills. On the
last day, “aggressors” would capture the trainees, take them to a
simulated POW camp on base, and “interrogate” them to see where
their breaking point was. I learned so much by teaching survival
skills, and it has helped me to this day in making good decisions in
the wild, and having the mental fortitude to push myself through dire

I was in the Air Force for four years, and then back to a ski shop in
Albuquerque. My parents were then in the fifth year of sailing their
small yacht around the world. My father called me from Hong Kong when
I was 24 years old, with news that my mother’s health was ailing
somewhat. My father asked me if I would come help him sail back to
the states. I joined my parents on their yacht in July of 1980, but
we didn’t get back to the states until two years later. In the
middle of the trip, I met a fellow in Fiji who needed someone to
navigate his sailboat back to New Zealand. My parents rested in Fiji
while I helped him navigate using a sextant, planets and stars.
Remember, this was back in the days before GPS’s. 

He was impressed with my sailing and navigation skills, and asked if I
would join his team on a 9,000-mile yacht race from Sydney to Rio.
The race took us from Australia to New Zealand, across the South
Pacific, around the treacherous Cape Horn of South America, and up
the Brazilian coast, where it ended at Rio de Janeiro. It took 41
days. Our team was the second team to cross the finish line out of
seven teams, but we won by handicap by over four days! McFarland
asked me if I wouldn’t mind residing in Rio for a month, so that he
could save $1,000 on my airfare to get me back to Fiji. That is when
I met my future wife, Maria. After I got back to Fiji, and helped my
parents sail back to the US, Maria came to the States about one year
after we met, and we were married six months later. 

I mentioned how when I moved to Southern Utah, I fell in love with the
beautiful landscape and outdoor opportunities. Believe it or not,
even though I had participated in some crazy sports like hang
gliding, and had jumped out of helicopters into water, I really had a
strong fear of heights. I was totally okay if I was clipped in, or
had some sort of safety device like a parachute or hang glider, but I
have never enjoyed exposure, nor do I get a big thrill out of the act
of rappelling. I soon became very interested in rock climbing, and
didn’t have a problem with heights and exposure on the wall,
because I was always harnessed in. Rappelling was okay to me, but it
was a secondary byproduct to what climbing was. My climbing skills
evolved rapidly, as I learned to use nuts, chocks, and camming
devices. I got involved in the big wall climbing in Zion, especially
on Angels Landing and on the other side of the canyon.

It was not too long after that, in 1996, that I was asked by David
Buccello (the acting chief ranger), to help Zion’s High Angle
rescue team to give them a hand in rappelling and doing some high
angle rescues. Some of the other team members at that time were Dean
Woods, John Middendorf, Scott Brown, and Scott Cooper Many other
rangers and volunteers would come and go over the years. 

My first training with the team was for me to be the acting patient. I
went up on Angels Landing the night before and rappelled down Sheer
Lunacy. I camped out and slept on a ledge, and then the next morning,
the team rappelled down to rescue and to hoist me back up. They put
me in a litter, and a dozen people hauled me up to the top. I became
very interested in the procedure of hauling up people and loads by
using mechanical pulleys. I volunteered to carry some packs back down
for the team. Right below Refrigerator Canyon, Dave Buccello got a
call to go assist on a carryout of someone in the Subway. Dave asked
me if I wanted to go help. I readily agreed, but I told him that I
would have to return to town by the morning, so that I could open up
the store, which I was managing (the Outdoor Outlet). We hiked in,
and got to the injured woman at around midnight. She had slipped on
some cascades in the Subway. The medics opted to stay with the woman
during the night, while I hiked out in order to get to work. Dave
called me soon after, and asked if I would like to become a member of
the high angle rescue team, and that is where my career with Zion’s
SAR team started.

The team had a policy guideline book, complete with specific skill
requirements and testing. Team members were supposed to hike and
climb regularly, and understand all the trails and routes in the
park. There was an eight-hour training once a month, and a weeklong
course each year that we were not paid for. I agreed to all of this,
and became very involved―I don’t think I missed hardly any
trainings or call-outs in the first twelve or thirteen years. In the
early years, we would often go and do exercises in specific canyons
like Kolob or Behunin, and examine certain scenarios. There was good
awareness, and a great pool of knowledge in the group. Zion has
always tried to keep a core team that is highly trained. In the last
five years the park has designated three sub-teams on SAR―the A
team does the technical high angle, the B team assists and is in
training for the high angle rescues, and the C team consists of the
pack mules. 

When I joined the team in 1996 there were five of us volunteers who were
not directly employed by the park. (However, we did get hazard pay,
similar to what federal wild-land firefighters get when on active
call-out.)  Within a few years the other four volunteers left,
and I was the last one around, and have been on the SAR team ever

The number and difficulty of rescues varies from year to year. There is
no consistency to when or how call-outs might come. One season you
might have only 20 to 30 rescues, and then the next season you might
get 70 to 80. It was never the same from one year to the next, but it
was always good to stay honed with up-to-date rescue skills. 

Rescue techniques change on a daily basis, and from year to year with new
technologies and knowledge. I attribute my success to being an Air
Force survival instructor, and to my years being on a small boat,
sailing around the world. Sailing helped me mentally more than
anything else did. I learned so much when I was a young man on how to
maintain myself in harsh outdoor environments, as well as an
understanding of risks and situations where I needed to overcome many
different problems. These skills built up over time, and helped me
once I was on the SAR team.  

This is an extremely important point I would like to emphasize, and it is
why I have led up with my condensed life history. This point is: to
attempt any of the incredible activities that Zion has to offer (such
as hiking, climbing, canyoneering, rappelling, or kayaking), one
needs to build the skills―layer upon layer over time. You need to
get to the point where you are not only comfortable with your skills
in any environment, but you are also very adaptable and skilled
enough to handle any scenario that might be thrown at you―whether
it’s bad weather, overcoming a time-consuming setback like getting
disoriented, treating an injured party member, losing a key piece of
rappelling equipment, or making a costly misstep. 

I have run an outdoor retail store for nearly three decades now, and
when I first got involved with Zion’s SAR, I got excited about some
of the new adventures and places I had seen. I made the mistake of
giving some customers too much information (beta) that resulted in
them getting in over their heads, and ultimately requiring rescues.
In fact, two of the first rescues I ever participated with were of
the same person in succession―a person who I gave information to.
He came into the store, and I initially didn’t recognize that this
person was not qualified to do those canyons (Lodge Canyon and Pine
Creek). So it was kind of embarrassing to me when we had to go rescue
him. The SAR team joked about it and said, “Bo, you are keeping us
in business!”  After that, I became a little less anxious, and
a lot more prudent on how I gave this information out. I was
selective, and would screen people before I encouraged them to do
such-and-such canyon, or whatever. I came to realize that a lot of
injuries and lives would be saved if people would learn the skills
that they need before they endeavor on any adventure―especially now
that it seems that people really push themselves beyond their limits
in this age of sharing everything on the internet. 

I must admit that I have seen a lot of pain and suffering while being
on the SAR team. It is not easy to pick up body pieces of a young
soul who has fallen hundreds of feet, or drowned in a flash flood.
And it is even tougher to see the agony on the family of the
deceased. These sullen incidents add up over time, and it can be
discouraging and depressing at times. 

However, there are some incredibly rewarding moments. I think that my one
favorite life-changing rescues was the one a few years ago when we
rescued a father and his two children from a cliff when they were
attempting to do Fat Man’s Misery. They were way off-course, but
nobody knew exactly where to look, even though the helicopter had
flown all over―up and down the canyons in the area. The search team
I was with continued down the East Fork of the Virgin River through
Parunaweap Canyon. We were discouraged, because we hadn’t seen any
footprints, but then I heard a strange sound rising above the white
noise of the gurgling river. I stopped the team and said, “Listen!”
 We heard a faint cry, and started scanning the cliffs, which
were hundreds of vertical feet above us. About 800 feet high, up to
the right, near the top of the cliff band, we barely saw a man waving
his arms and yelling. We barely heard him yelling too. We radioed the
helicopter, directed it to the man’s position, and he and his kids
were plucked off the cliff soon after. I didn’t get to meet the
family that day. However, a year later, a random woman came up to me
in my store and said with much emotion, “Thank you for saving my
husband and children last year.”  She explained who she was.
Now that is what is so gratifying and rewarding―knowing that you
forever touch the life of a family!

As I am finishing writing this Introduction with Dave, my cell phone
rings. It is a Friday night, just as I am preparing to relax and rest
for the weekend. Zion Dispatch is calling, informing me that a person
has fallen off Angels Landing―no other details are yet available.
This is already the third major rescue in as many days―after a
major injury due to a canyoneer falling 100 feet in Behunin Canyon,
and a tragic 100-foot slip resulting in a death in the Left Fork
right above the Subway. 

“Hey Dave, why don’t you accompany me―they could use the extra help!”
 I know that the SAR team and park rangers are exhausted, and
their resources are stretched thin. I pick up my pre-packed rescue
bag from the store, and then we begin the scenic one-hour drive to
beautiful, Zion just as the sunset is lighting up the West Temple.
All that we can do at this point is to hope only for the best…that
all goes well with everyone involved…another miracle…

Bo Beck was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1956, and raised in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1975, he joined the Air Force, where he
taught global survival to USAF air crew members. He has been an
active member of the Zion National Park High Angle Search and Rescue
Team since 1996. 

Bo and his wife, Maria, have a son, Brandon, and a daughter, Stephanie,
who gave them their first granddaughter, Alex. Bo enjoys managing the
finest specialty outdoor store in the Southwest―The Desert
Rat―where he shares his extensive experience with customers. Bo is
always eager to assist folks to find the right equipment, and help
with any information that might make for a perfect experience in the
desert Southwest. Bo is co-author of the popular guidebook:
“Favorite Hikes In & Around Zion National Park.” 

Chpt 1: The Virgin (River)

SUNDAY morning started out dark and stormy. The day before was considerably warm―close to 90 degrees―and generally clear. Sunday’s forecast was for another toasty and cloudless day. Nevertheless, for some reason, the morning had numerous dark, billowing clouds that had rapidly moved up from the south, covering Southern Utah, home of Zion National Park. The Socotwa Expeditions was a group of 26 hikers from Salt Lake City. They proceeded cautiously forward on the second day of their Zion Narrows thru-hike, this being the 17th day of September, 1961. Normally, monsoonal moisture percolates up from the sub-tropics of Mexico during the hot, dog-day months of summer. The month of September is usually the time when the rainy season begins tapering off. During most typical summer monsoon seasons, Arizona usually gets pounded hard with aggravating thunderstorms. Southern Utah usually gets whatever moisture is leftover, although sometimes for Zion it is even more concentrated―for occasionally, the moisture combines and intensifies―and this was one of those days. However, on this Sunday at around 10 a.m., the weather seemed to cheerily turn for the better, and it stayed that way until noon. The skies were clear and radiant, and the group of hikers sighed with relief as they entered the tightest part of Zion’s Narrows. Little did this ambitious group (comprised mostly of boy scouts and their leaders) know that one of the biggest storms in 25 years had already hammered the northern tributaries and headwaters of the Virgin River. High up on the south side of Navajo Lake at an elevation of 9,200 feet, where Cedar Mountain marks the northern boundary of the Virgin River headwaters, the clouds were bursting! The previous day, the troop had started their hike in these same mountains near Navajo Lake, walking past the Virgin River headwaters―the aquifer-fed Cascade Spring―and they had made it all the way down to the Narrows of the Virgin River near the confluence of Kolob Creek, where they had camped for their first night. They had not seen any rain yet, except for being bathed in some tepid, fast-moving sprinkles during the night, as they dreamily slept under the stars and the red-streaked sandstone walls. However, the stage was set, and it was only a matter of hours before the fast and intense rain bulged in natural cisterns and pools, and then ran off to merge with countless drainages, slot canyons, and tributaries. So while the skies remained clear and indigo, a disaster, commonly known as a flash flood, was bearing down-river on them like a freight train. The Zion Narrows thru-hike is a very long, but extremely scenic journey, as it requires walking literally in the river on smooth cobble and sand. Perpendicular cliff walls rise hundreds, and in some spots, more than 2,000 feet straight up on both sides. The tightest part of the canyon is less than 30 feet across, and in late summer when the Virgin River runs low, hikers are able to wade in its depths ranging from ankle to waist-deep. Hiking the Narrows is ranked number five by National Geographic in a list of their best 100 adventure hikes in America. Not only is it adventuresome, but the Narrows hike is also very surreal, as hikers walk in the river for most of the distance―next to soaring vertical Navajo Sandstone cliffs, ferns, hollowed alcoves, hanging gardens, green grottos, bubbling springs, whispering waterfalls, and enigmatic side canyons―some of which narrow and slot up to being only several feet across. At 16 miles in length, over boulders in the frigid river water, portaging around several roaring waterfalls, and having to navigate numerous small drops, this is a trek that requires either one very long day, or it is commonly broken up into two days and one night. It was after noon with the skies rapidly darkening, when the echo of thunder boomed, but the rumble was not caused by lightning or by falling rocks. The weary group of hikers glanced behind them up-river, and were astonished by what they saw. They couldn’t help but freeze for a split-second, as they stared in horror and fascination. Suddenly, a huge 15-foot wall of muddy water was shooting around the upstream bend in the canyon, and it was roaring down upon them at speeds exceeding 15 miles per hour! At the front of the black wrinkly wave were uprooted trees and driftwood―rippling and bobbing crazily in the torrent. The hikers dropped their heavy backpacks and immediately attempted to scramble up anything they could call high ground in this deep chasm. As the flood bellowed through, three of the group’s hikers from the rear were swept away, floating past the others, and were in the process of drowning, despite doing their best to swim to safety. Two others from the group went missing as well. The other 21 remaining hikers were strung out through the canyon for about a mile, and huddled down in small groups to wait for the water to drop. Some were on sand bars, some found ledges, small alcoves, or minor side canyons. As the afternoon progressed, a few were fortunate to be able to build a fire to stay warm. Others bundled up in ponchos and sleeping bags, wondering when this menace would subside. When the flash flood initially hit the group, the skies were not even raining. But within 30 minutes, it started pouring on these survivors with the force of a hurricane, causing the river to pulsate high throughout the rest of the day. The rains continued into the evening, and forced the struggling party to stay put for a very long, cold night. Eventually, the next day, Monday, at around 11 a.m., the rains and waters subsided enough for the scattered groups to start their hike out. As they continued down canyon through the Narrows, they noticed rocks more than ten feet high that were dolloped with mud and debris. When they passed the mouth of a side canyon known as Orderville Canyon on river-left, two members of the party carved a message on the canyon wall, letting anyone passing by know that they were okay. At last, the entire remaining group of 21 made it out of the canyon and back to waiting authorities between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Walter Scott, age 48, the group leader, was helping the younger boys from the previous night, so he was at the rear of the group when the flash flood hit. Had he, or any of the other leaders known how much rain had fallen in the early morning, they would have certainly turned the group around and hiked them back up and out of the Narrows (or at least moved to some higher ground), instead of continuing downstream into the narrowest part of the canyon. When the floodwaters hit Scott, some of the survivors who managed to escape to high ground reported that they saw him swimming hard in the current. Two others were seen being swept downriver near him. One of the two young men was sucked down under the slurry-like sludge, and his head was not seen after that. The next day Scott’s body was found in a heap of driftwood 10 miles downstream from where the flood hit, in the town of Springdale, by a 13-year-old boy who wanted to see the damage that the flood had left in its wake. The force of the flood was so intense that it had stripped off all of Scott’s clothing, leaving only his shoes. Ray Nicholes, age 17, and Steven Florence, age 13, were the other two boys with him, and their bodies were discovered along the riverbanks between the park campground and the town of Springdale, in close proximity to where Scott’s body was found. The other two missing hikers, Alvin Nelson, and Frank Johnson, both age 17, were missing and never found, despite searching that entailed hundreds of man-hours. It was not until 2007 that a skull fragment was found in the river by a swimmer in the town of Springdale, and authorities speculated it to be one of the missing youth. Using modern-day DNA analysis, it was indeed confirmed that the skull fragment belonged to Alvin Nelson. Flash floods are a common characteristic of rivers, especially rivers in the southwest desert. The Virgin River is quite unique. Measuring only 162 miles long, and dropping over 8,000 vertical feet from Navajo Lake to the Colorado River, this makes it one of the steepest rivers in America, as it descends nearly 50 feet per mile. According to various sources, the naming of the river is attributed to Spanish Catholic missionaries honoring the Virgin Mary (La Virgen), although it’s more likely that it is named after Thomas Virgin, a member of the 1827 Jedediah Smith party. Virgin was severely wounded by Indians during a battle in the area, and later killed in a melee on the Umpqua River on the Pacific coast of Oregon. Another early explorer, G.K. Gilbert, who visited Zion in 1872, is credited with naming “the Narrows” and for being the first explorer to fully appreciate their wonder, although Native Americans (who also happened to be superstitious about going deeply into the canyon) called it Mukuntuweap, meaning “straight canyon.” In June 1920, the first large-scale exploration of the Narrows was done by 25 members of the Utah Mountain Club, for the purpose to “explore the little-known gorge at the head of Zion Canyon.” The group began their hike in Cedar Breaks country near Navajo Lake, and journeyed to the headwaters of the Virgin River. The Narrows thru-hikers included only five of the 25 members, and they continued ahead of the group. This daring party included Mr. J.E. Broaddus, secretary and photographer, Professor Fred J. Pack, geologist, Professor J.H. Paul, botanist, and Dr. W.M. Stuckey, who acted as guide. These five trailblazers followed the Virgin River bed from the headwaters for a distance of 15 miles to Wylie’s camp (present day Temple of Sinawava). Two days were required for the journey through the gorge, and of course, the explorers had to carry all of their provisions on their backs. In order to prevent exposure to the river, their food, first-aid packets, and bedding were all enclosed in watertight bags. The other group of 20 hiked around to the east side of the plateau from the headwaters of the Virgin, and dropped down into the canyon at Cable Mountain (using the present day East Rim Trail and Echo Canyon). Both groups eventually met at Wylie’s camp. A complete report of the excursion was later made to the national parks commission for use in advertising the beauties of Zion National Park. A steep gradient river like the Virgin, combined with the narrow canyon walls in the Narrows, produces a mix of deadly hiking conditions whenever heavy rains fall anywhere near the drainage. Another unique characteristic of the Virgin River is that so much of its drainage in and around Zion National Park is composed of sandstone. Whenever rain falls on sandstone, instead of the moisture saturating and soaking in like it would into dirt, it simply runs off, pools, combines with other flowing waters, and then pours off down into cracks and fissures. Many of these cracks are called slot canyons―where there are chambers, vestibules, and veiny corridors barely wide enough for a human to climb or rope down. All of these fissures and conical slots act like funnels for the rainwater, and they eventually drain into the main forks of the Virgin River, where water volume is added and multiplied many times over from all these sources, coming from every direction. With the Virgin’s steep gradient, the water can accelerate to speeds faster than a human can run, especially when a wall of down-welling water is dozens of feet high. During the fateful 1961 tragedy, rain gauges in the park recorded 1.43 inches of rain. In the high country where the headwaters of the Virgin River sit, much more rain fell. Multiple named tributaries to the North Fork of the Virgin River, such as Oak Creek, Kolob Creek, Goose Creek, Imlay, and Orderville Canyon all feed into the main Narrows. To get an idea of how much water came down the Virgin, the river gauge on the day of the flash flood (in the wider part of the main canyon, which is well below the Narrows), rose from 0.35 feet, up to a height of 3.5 feet―and the flow rose from 40 cubic feet per second (cfs) to over 1,000 cubic feet per second. When compounding the narrow walls in the river where the hikers were swept away, one can see how 10 feet or more of water could rise, and surge through in no time at all. In order to visualize a cubic foot per second of water, 1,000 cfs is like watching 1,000 beach balls filled with water flow past your feet every second! This is literally what personally happened to Kenneth Webb, a surviving member of the 1961 group, and a Scoutmaster from Park City, Utah. He said that he and Douglas Childs, a 13-year-old boy, stood in knee-deep water during the flood on the highest ground that they could find. They tried unsuccessfully to signal to the group downriver about the flood bearing down on them, although they did not personally see anyone swept away. More deaths may have occurred that day if people had not been aware of their surroundings. “If Margaret hadn’t heard the roar,” said John Dearden of Park City, “nobody would have been alive.” Linda Mclntyre, age 20, of Salt Lake City heard a warning from her younger sister Margaret, and passed the warning on to the others. The group frantically scrambled for higher ground when they saw the flood raging down the narrow gorge. “The water came up to within a foot of us—we couldn’t have gone any further, the rock wall was straight up,” said Dearden. The group was marooned for nearly 22 hours, until they were rescued Monday. “It was so sudden that we couldn’t cross to higher ground,” said Lyle (Buzz) Moss, 25, of Salt Lake City, who was near the head of the 21-member party. Moss slogged through the river to the highest sandbar he could reach, and watched as the water rose around him to within 18 inches of where he stood. Others abandoned their packs, and climbed frantically up the sides of the canyon, as the torrent raced down the gorge. Hikers going through the Narrows in the days after the flood saw where the raging flood razored new courses from the mouth of Orderville Canyon all the way down to the Temple of Sinawava. Lichen and moss were ripped off boulders and canyon walls ten feet above the normal water line. The flood tore out a long section of asphalt park road between Zion Lodge and the Temple of Sinawava, and it scattered huge boulders and timbers from side to side. A bridge on State Route 15 (present day Utah Highway 9) on the road between Saint George and Zion National Park was washed out, and a temporary bridge was installed in its place. Numerous deer and elk were found in the debris, and one bull elk carcass was lodged eight feet up in the canyon, showing just how violent the flash flood was. This 1961 tragedy continues to be the single most deadly incident to ever occur in Zion National Park. It could have been much worse with many more deaths, or perhaps it could have been avoided entirely. Many of these incidents are fateful due to terrible luck (although fortunate luck plays a part at times too). Much of it is determined by the chance of being in the right or wrong place, at the wrong or right time... ₪     

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  1. Done reading and now I'm conflicted. I wanted the book to keep going, but that would have required more people to have died. :( However, the book itself is great!

  2. Zion is such a wonderful paradise for the every-day casual hiker, to the most adventurous back-country explorer, yet this paradise requires you to participate, actively, in your safety as well as your enjoyment. This book is very well researched and like many of the "Accidents in...xxx" genre, gives plenty of facts and circumstances that inform your own decisions in the wild outdoors. What makes me LOVE this book, is the personal feeling that Dave puts into each story. We're happy when there is a rescue, and made to feel the loss when there's a recovery.

    Bo Beck is a local legend, and his personal search and rescue perspective is invaluable to many of these tales. It was great to get to know him better and to have a real idea of how much danger these rescuers put themselves in to save our sorry selves when our adventure goes wrong.

    Whether you are a "local" like me, and know some of these guys like Dave & Bo, or you're flying in from the far corners of the world, this book is chock full of useful information and meaningful commentary. I plan to read this over again and recommend it highly to anyone interested in understanding the history of search and rescues in Zion and the people intimately involved, as well as the many interesting tales of accidents you never want to repeat.

  3. I started reading your new book on Friday night and finished it Saturday morning. I thoroughly enjoyed this most informative book on death and rescues in Zion. I often wondered what happens in the park with all the visitors they see. You know there has to be bad things happening, you just don’t know what and how many. But now I know, thanks to you and Dave.
    Larry Siedl
    Field Sales Rep
    Globe Pequot Press

  4. I am the mother of Tyler Jeffrey (Elder) Eggertz who died March 28th, 1997, when he was 12 years old. Tyler died at Emerald Pools. He slipped on moss, fell on his stomach and slid over the waterfall at the Middle Pool and landed on the rocks of the Lower Pool, crushing his skull and killing him on impact.

    Tyler was the fifth person to die that way at the Middle Pool. At that time, the Park had no safeguards to ensure visitors stayed at a safe distance from the slope towards the edge. This area is deceivingly dangerous for anyone who ventured too close to the subtle roll of the rock and the natural gravitational pull to the end of the roll - resulting in an inescapable fatal fall.

    After 3 years of fighting a suit with the Federal Government, our demands were met, and warning signs (which included informing people of the deaths) were installed as well as the chain that now runs from the end of both trails of the hike up from the Lower Pool to the Middle Pool. We lost the suit - but the changes were made that we outlined in the suit. We lost the battle, but we won the war!

    Since the chain has been installed, no one has died there. This area is advertised as an "easy hike" - and it did not sufficiently warn people of the impending danger - now it does! People - and parents can make an informed choice to hike up to the Middle Pool, and safeguard their children.

    Zions is beautiful, yet even seemingly easy and safe hikes can be deceivingly dangerous and threatening to human life! I am proud of the changes made to the hike to, and the arrival at the Middle Pool. These signs and the chain now inform hikers of the impending danger - and I am happy to have been a part of that change - and it was worth the tremendous challenge to go up against the Federal Government and NOT BACK DOWN! It has saved any more parents from grieving the death of their child from a fall like Tyler's at the Middle Pool at Emerald Pools.

    When you are at Zions, take a moment, say a prayer in the way you pray - for the loss of lives at this beautiful place, and for the people who grieve the lost of a loved one!

    Nancy Elder
    One of those Mothers who grieves the death of her child