NewsLocal News


Searchers say missing couple's UTV may have been swept up by flash flooding near Moab

Search for Ray and Maranda Ankofski continues
Posted at 9:58 PM, Jun 26, 2024

GRAND COUNTY, Utah — The search for a missing couple in Grand County, just outside of Moab, continued Wednesday.

The latest information indicates that the couple's off-road utility vehicle (UTV) may have been washed away by flash flooding.

Ray and Maranda Ankofski, from Texas, were last seen last Friday afternoon. Their family became concerned when they didn't check out of their hotel on Sunday.

A flash flood hit the area during the weekend, and officials say a man told them he believed there might be a couple still on the Steel Bender off-road trail when he came away off the trail.

A helicopter from the Utah Department of Public Safety flew over the canyon, but those on board were unable to see anyone.

On Monday, search and rescue crews found the couple's UTV near the trail.

In a new interview Wednesday, Chief Deputy Mike Palmer with the Grand County Sheriff's Office said when the vehicle was found, there wasn't much left of it.

"It appears that probably once the flood hit the UTV, we're thinking anywhere from three-quarters to a mile, pushed it down the wash and off of the waterfall," Palmer said. "Their tools and belongings are scattered over a three-mile area in this canyon."

Palmer said when flooding hits the area, it can bring hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and debris.

WATCH: More rain brings 'significant threat' of flash flooding in southern Utah

He added that this is an extensive search that has lasted three days, with thousands of man-hours. And while he said efforts will be scaled back, they won't stop until they find the couple. The search will resume Thursday.

FOX 13 News also spoke with Ryan Talbot, who volunteered to help look for the couple.

Talbot lives in the remote area where the couple went missing. He knows the area well.

"Part of why I went out there is because I put myself in their shoes, you know, to be somewhere distant and have something like this happen to your family member, and ... have not been able to do anything," he explained. "So that's why I wanted to help, because I'd hate to be in that situation. I would hope that there's some better angels out there that would step up and help if that was my family."

Officials say they have found several of the couple's belongings. In addition, Talbot found a cooler that authorities believe was on the couple's UTV.

However, from what he saw and heard, Talbot said it didn't look like they were actually in the UTV when it was swept away.