ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – The body of a missing hiker was found below Angels Landing, a popular trail with 1,500-foot drop-offs with handrails along the most narrow and dangerous part of the route.
Park officials say the investigation is ongoing, but they were notified at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday of a missing hiker and rescuers began searching at 6:30 Thursday morning. Rangers say the victim was a 19-year-old female visiting from Maine.
Zion National Park was under a flash-flood warning on Wednesday due to a slow-moving storm moving through the area. Under these conditions, rangers said visitors may often underestimate the difficulty and danger of Angels Landing.
Staff say the victim was hiking with a group of friends, but say they’re unsure where along the trail she fell, what caused her fall, or whether or not she had attempted Angels Landing before.
“The park wants to extend our deepest condolences to this young woman’s family and friends,” said Zion National Park Ranger Eleanor Siebers.
Some hikers at the park Thursday said they were frightened by the news, adding that they wish the trail had been shut down for the duration of the storm.
“We’re brand new here, so we might not have known how dangerous slippery rocks could be,” said visitor Christopher Carlson.
On Saturday, the trail was closed after rocks, some the size of a refrigerator, landed on the chains section of the trail. The park reopened Tuesday afternoon after officials successfully removed the rocks and deemed that there was no hazard to the public.
Park officials say ultimately, hikers’ safety is their own responsibility.
“And it is a tough thing to do. Because I think any ranger you talked to yesterday would’ve said — not a great day to go up there, it’s going to be really wet,” said Siebers.
Park officials say this incident has not prompted them to consider closing Angels Landing in inclement weather.
Park staff said they were in the process of removing her body early Thursday afternoon.
Rangers say this incident marks the 10th death on that trail since 2004.
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