Man dies in canyoneering accident at Zion National Park

Posted at 4:13 PM, Oct 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-03 18:13:48-04

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah — A man died Friday afternoon in Zion National Park while he and a group were in the first rappel in Not Imlay Canyon.

According to a press release from Zion National Park, 50-year-old Christian Louis Johnson of St. George died Friday in the accident, which was reported around 1 p.m.

The accident happened in Not Imlay Canyon, a side canyon of Imlay Canyon that the release states has become an increasingly popular route that is shorter and more dry than the route through Imlay Canyon. However, the release notes the side canyon is “not any less technical or dangerous.”

Johnson was in a group of four people, including his husband, Everett Boutillet. The couple has been canyoneering together since 2010, and Boutillet said they had descended more than 100 canyons, 200 times, in five states.

“Zion was our favorite park,” Boutillet said in the press release. “Our favorite place to be. Our first canyon was the ‘Subway’ and we were instantly addicted.”

“Louis and I understood the risks, but the joy that it brought outweighed them.” Johnson’s mother, Joy Johnson, added “Nature gave him so much peace.”

The man’s family expressed gratitude to the search and rescue personnel who helped recover their loved one’s body, a process that required the use of a helicopter and crew.

“We also want to share our gratitude for those that went out to him and brought him back and to the personnel for keeping us informed,” said Joy Johnson. “Also our gratitude to his canyoneering family, who have sent Louis and Everett well wishes from all around the world.”