Flash flood survivors share details of experience

Posted at 10:19 PM, Sep 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-10 13:02:21-04

A group of four canyoneers say they’re lucky to be alive after being caught in a flash flood in Zion National Park late last month. Video of the massive water wall is circulating the internet, and the hikers say it’s a warning to others.

Eric Hanson says he’s filmed flash floods in Zion National Park before, but nothing close to the one that trapped he and his friends on August 25.

“We had been behind this curtain of water that was blocking out all light,” says Hanson. “You can see in the video that it’s nearly completely dark. And that’s really how dark it was in there.”

The four friends were canyoneering through Behunin Canyon near Emerald Pools. Hanson says they saw the storm coming in, but thought they could get out in time. What started as a rain storm quickly turned into a life and death situation.

“Completely overwhelming, terrifying,” says Hanson. “I’ve always known it was a risk, that it was a possibility. I never thought I would actually see it.”

The four took shelter under a boulder, and waited. Trapped for over an hour, Hanson and his friend, Eric Rettenbush say it took all their strength to keep from getting washed away by the flash flood.

“Lots of time to think about what could potentially kill you,” says Rettehbush. “And all the while just the horrific scene of this water coming all over the place. Eric was sitting just probably out of arms reach of me, and I couldn’t even see him because of the wall of water that was in between us.”

Eventually the waters did begin to recede and the four friends made their push to get out to safety. Hanson says they were only about 30 feet from the main canyon, but that the swift moving water made it impossible to cross to safety. Hanson says he was experiencing the early stages of hypothermia, and isn’t sure how long they would have lasted.

“My hope is that people can learn from this video and see how fast these flash floods really do come on and see how powerful they can be,” Says Hanson.

Hanson and Rettenbush went back to Behunin canyon a few days ago to face the canyon that almost took their lives, but say another flood watch and rain clouds made them postpone the return trip. Hanson says under-estimating mother nature is something he won’t do again.

Watch the video: