Two hikers were found dead and one has been rescued after authorities believe they were caught in a flash flood while trekking the popular Buckskin Gulch slot canyon in southern Utah.
The three men, all in their 50s, began their hike Friday but officials believe they were caught in the flooding event while continuing their journey Saturday morning, Kane County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Alan Alldredge told CNN.
The flash flood may have been triggered by an atmospheric river that has drenched the West this week and is producing high water flows in streams, rivers and slot canyons across southwest Utah, according to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackleford.
A search for the group was launched Monday after the wife of one of the hikers called the sheriff’s office, concerned that she hadn’t heard from her husband by the time he and his hiking companions were expected to have completed their trek, Alldredge said.
Air resources were called in to assist with the search along Buckskin Gulch, a roughly 16-mile canyon that winds through southern Utah before meeting the Arizona border.
Two of the hikers were found deceased on Monday and Tuesday, the lieutenant said. One of the bodies was found 3 to 4 miles across the Utah-Arizona state line, he said.
The third hiker was rescued by the air search team, which saw debris that led them to the man, Alldridge said. The man was then hoisted out of the canyon and transported to a hospital, he said.
The surviving hiker is still hospitalized on Wednesday and was suffering from hypothermia and bodily injury, according to Alldredge.
“They had the packs, they had the necessary gear, food and stuff they needed for this particular hike. It’s just the conditions were above and beyond what anybody expected,” Alldridge told CNN affiliate KSTU.
CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.