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New video shows flash flooding rescue at Capitol Reef National Park

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 21:26:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY — New video from the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau showed the intense moments of a rescue at Capitol Reef National Park when people got caught in flash flooding.

Pilot Chelsea Tugaw was there as the recue unfolded.

"We got a phone call from Wayne County Search and Rescue asking for some assistance because they had flash flooding down there at Capitol Reef National Park," she told FOX 13 News.

Read - Some Capitol Reef National Park roads remain closed due to flash floods

Responders and rangers at the scene reported a number of park visitors were unaccounted for after flash flooding at the park last Thursday.

"The weather was still kind of poor as we showed up," Tugaw explained. "So we started the search immediately because we were concerned the water levels would continue to rise."

Soon, they spotted a few visitors trapped in the rushing waters.

"We just came across people that were stuck out in the middle the flood in their vehicle," Tugaw said. "There was a couple that actually got washed down in their vehicle in the flood and I guess they had to kick out the window of their vehicle to climb out."

Video from the helicopter rescue showed rescuers being lowered into the flooded areas to safely get visitors to higher ground. With their hard work, nobody was seriously injured in the flood.

Tugaw is the only female pilot in her department, and she said it's a thrilling job that is always unexpected. Her role in a rescue is locating the people who need help.

"Basically you're just using a reference point around you to hold a really steady hover, so the hoist operator can lower that line down to wherever needed," she explained. "And I mean it can be difficult at times."

Tugaw said she and her team were happy to help and credited other Wayne County officials and park rangers for their help in keeping visitors safe.