Fall victim among those warning hikers of the dangers in Bells Canyon

Posted at 9:56 PM, Jun 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-26 23:56:31-04

SANDY, Utah – The Beehive State has some of the best hiking trails in the country, and one of the most popular is in Bells Canyon. But after a recent rash of rescues, and two deaths since 2010, officials are reminding everyone to stay safe on the trail.

It is one of the more accessible and scenic hikes in the Salt Lake Valley, as evidenced by the parking lot Friday--which was packed before noon. It's an alpine waterfall now accessed by hundreds and hundreds of people each year, but along with all that beauty, officials say there are some potential dangers lurking up there.

The Bells Canyon Waterfall Trail is rated the third best hike in the Salt Lake Valley, and Mansour Arizand, who survived a fall there, understands why.

"And as you make it to the waterfall, it's the most magnificent sight that you can see,” he said.

But, sadly, he also knows how dangerous it can be. Caught up in the moment back on Father's Day in 2010, Arizand actually made it to the top of the falls, then tried jumping across the creek.

"And as soon as I jumped, the rocks were slippery on the other side, I slipped, fell on my back and into the water and then the water actually started taking me,” he said.

He spent more than an hour in that water before being rescued, but fortunately didn't suffer a head injury, remained conscious and ultimately survived.

But just a week later, another hiker slipped near the same spot and died.

“We've seen many hikers just overestimate their abilities,” Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said.

That’s why Dolan, along with local search and rescues crews, gathered Friday to remind everyone to be careful when enjoying Bells Canyon.

"Our biggest concern is not use of the canyon, it's the safety that happens when people access the canyon,” Dolan said.

Since 2010, there have been two deaths and numerous falls where hikers have been injured and needed to be rescued, including a 19-year-old man just last week.

Arizand hopes his experience will help others.

"Things don't seem as they really are, you don't think there is any danger but there is a lot of danger,” he said.

Arizand has since fully recovered from his injuries and says he was more than happy to take part in Friday’s press conference to warn people, and he said he hopes they learn from his mistake.