Two young girls killed in flash flood near Goblin Valley State Park

Southern Utah

Sisters swept away by flood waters in Little Wildhorse Canyon

UPDATE 5/14: The girls were identified as 7-year-old McKinzley Graff and 3-year-old Elexia Graff, according to Emery County Sheriff’s Office.

EMERY COUNTY (ABC4 News) – The body of a 3-year-old girl was found after she and her 7-year-old sister were swept away in a flash flood in Little Wildhorse Canyon near Goblin Valley State Park. An isolated thunderstorm crossed the San Rafael Swell earlier Monday afternoon causing flash flooding in nearby slot canyons.

RELATED: Coworkers set up GoFundMe page for family who lost young daughters to flash flood

Emery County officials confirm searchers found the body of the 3-year-old girl about 28 miles from where she and some of her family members were in the slot canyons when the flash flood hit.

Officials said the 3-year-old was found around noon after a Department of Public Safety helicopter spotted the girl’s body washed up on a sand bank.

RELATED: Over the last 100 years Utah has experienced several deadly flooding events.

Emery County Public Information Officer Janalee Lucke said at the time of the flash flood, the 7 and 3-year-old sisters were hiking with their mother and uncle, and their father was waiting at the trail head.

“When he saw the flood waters come down, he actually retrieved his 7-year-old-daughter and he began trying to resuscitate her. Then he got some assistance and that’s when we first got the call. He then left that area and proceeded downstream to find his 3-year-old,” said Luke.

Gov. Herbert released the following statement Tuesday afternoon following news that the bodies of two sisters had been recovered: 

“Jeanette and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family who lost their two daughters in yesterday’s flash flood. Utah mourns with the family and prays that they may be comforted in this heartbreaking time. We appreciate the efforts of all who assisted in the search.”

The National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory for north central Wayne and south central Emery Counties Monday afternoon. NWS said to expect gusty winds, small hail, lightning to impact Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wildhorse Slot Canyon.

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