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One dead, 2 rescued following Zion National Park search

Upper Emerald Pool Trail
Posted at 9:18 AM, Nov 28, 2021

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah — One person was killed and two others in a group were rescued after making an emergency call in Zion National Park over the weekend.

The park's technical search and rescue team responded to the call early Sunday at the exit of Heaps Canyon. The Middle and Upper Emerald Pools trails were closed to the public during the operation.

When crews arrived, they found two people stranded on a rock perch 280 feet above Upper Emerald pools, along with a man suspended from a rope about 260 feet above the pool. The man, 31-year-old Andrew Arvig of Virginia, was lowered to the ground and declared dead by a doctor on the scene.

The two other canyoneers were able to rappel to the ground safely with help from rescuers.

According to the survivors, the group started through Heaps Canyon on Saturday and had difficulty "negotiating the last few rappels in the canyon which delayed their exit," according to a park release.

While two people in the group were able to rappel to the perch where they were found, Arvig was unable to descend the 20 feet back to where the others were located.

More than 30 rescuers, including a helicopter team dispatched from Grand Canyon National Park, took part in the rescue operation.

“All of us at Zion National Park extend our sympathy to the Arvig family for their tragic loss,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.

The park announced Monday that Middle and Upper Emerald Pools trails were once again open to the public, a day after they were closed.