2 found dead, others rescued by helicopter after hikers caught in flooded slot canyon near Utah-Arizona border

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Salt Lake City – Two men were found dead when floodwaters entered a slot canyon near the Utah-Arizona border, threatening three groups of hikers who had to be evacuated by helicopter. Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Alan Alldridge said the first person found dead was among a group of three hikers south of Lee’s Ferry across the Utah-Arizona border. Another person in the group was rescued and taken to hospital, where he was being treated several days later for hypothermia and physical injuries.

Authorities found a second body Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona border. Although he could not immediately confirm that it was the same person identified as missing earlier in the week, Aldridge said he was “very confident this is our missing person” and additional searches stopped.

Aldridge said authorities received a call Monday from the spouse of a hiker who had not returned home from a hike that began Friday. The hikers were on a multi-day trek from Wire Pass to Lee’s Ferry through the sandstone features of Buckskin Gulch, including several narrow slot canyons.

Male hiker inside Buckskin Gulch, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Utah
A file photo shows a hiker in one of the distinctive sandstone slot canyons of the famous Buckskin Gulch area in Kane County, Utah.

Samiko Scott/Getty

Authorities have not released the names of any of the hikers. The first person found dead was from the Tampa, Florida area, Aldridge said.

gave “Atmospheric River” storm Floodwaters inundated parts of the western United States late last week, raising water levels in canyons before additional floodwaters poured into slot canyons earlier this week. Authorities continued to search for the missing hiker as the weather forecast called for more rain on Wednesday.

Two Utah Department of Public Safety helicopters and another hiker helped find the second body found Wednesday. After an initial group of three were called in, Department of Public Safety helicopters on Tuesday helped pull out 11 others who were trapped in floodwaters and called for help.

CBS News affiliate KUTV’s Brian Schnee took to his Twitter account to share dramatic video captured by cameras aboard public safety helicopters as they spotted and rescued a stranded hiker.

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