Zion National Park: NPS joins WCSO in search for hiker missing since Friday flooding

Jetal Agnihotri. Image: Twitter/Pujan Agnihotri

ZION NATIONAL PARK, Aug. 22, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has invited the National Park Service to assist them as they search areas of the Virgin River south of Zion National Park for missing hiker Jetal Agnihotri, last seen Friday in the Narrows portion of Zion National Park.

“Staff from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office along with dog handlers and members of the Zion National Park Search and Rescue Team will be investigating areas in or near the Virgin River including fast-flowing and deep water,” says a statement issued Monday by Zion National Park. “The National Park Service will also continue searching the river in Zion National Park.”

On Sunday in the park, “the Washington County Sheriff Office’s Swift Water Team investigated fast-flowing and deep areas of the Virgin River, dog handlers investigated vegetation and log-jams, and the Zion National Park Search and Rescue Team continued its search in and near the Virgin River,” the statement says.

Agnihotri, 29 and a resident of Tucson, Ariz., was visiting Zion with friends who reported her missing after she left to investigate a portion of the Narrows on her own.

“Zion National Park received a report around 2:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 of multiple hikers being swept off their feet by a flash flood in the Narrows near the Temple of Sinawava,” the statement says.

“After receiving the initial report, the National Park Service immediately sent rangers to assess the situation and began mobilizing for a large-scale response. Near the Temple of Sinawava, park rangers found an injured hiker who had been swept downstream several hundred yards. A National Park Service ambulance transported the hiker to a hospital.”

Park workers reportedly asked groups leaving if any of their members were missing, but did not learn Agnihotri was missing until her friends alerted them Friday evening.

“In response, park rangers continued monitoring the river during the night and mobilized additional searchers early on August 20. Zion Search and Rescue Team members, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Staff and members of the Hurricane Valley Fire District have been working in and near the Virgin River searching for this missing person.

“As this search continues, Zion rangers are monitoring the weather and continuing the park’s search and rescue efforts.”

For other park visitors

Due to ongoing searches, park officials say visitors will notice the following changes:

  • Riverside Walk and the Narrows are closed.
  • Search and rescue operations are not currently affecting access to Angels Landing or most other destinations in Zion Canyon.
  • Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail were already closed following rain on August 18 and remain so.
  • Virgin River Narrows camping permits and top-down river hiking permits are canceled.
  • Park shuttle buses in Zion Canyon are operating at stops between the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Grotto (Shuttle Stop #6) only. In the town of Springdale, shuttles are operating on their normal route and stops.

Gephardt Daily will have updates as new information becomes available.

The Narrows. Image sources: nps.gov, Google Maps


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