Incident:Two Dead in Buckskin Gulch 2023/05/20

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Incident:Two Dead in Buckskin Gulch 2023/05/20
Date 2023/05/20
Location Buckskin Gulch
Severity Fatality
Canyoneering-related Yes
SAR involvement Yes
Navigation problem No
Environmental problem Yes
Communication problem No
Planning problem Yes
Skills problem No
Body movement problem No
Rigging problem No
Rappel problem No
Insufficient gear No
Gear failure No


KANAB — Search crews have recovered the body of a second hiker killed in a flash food in a southern Utah slot canyon over the weekend.

On Tuesday, the Kane County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Gary York, 65, of West Chester Township, Ohio, and John Walter, 72, of Kettering, Ohio, were killed while hiking in the Bucksin Gulch area.

"It is believed they were caught by surprise and swept away by the rushing wall of water," the sheriff's office said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

About 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a member of the sheriff's office search and rescue team, who is also a backcountry guide, notified his office that he had received a message from a group hiking in the Paria River area from the White House trailhead to Lee's Ferry that a body of a deceased man was found in the canyon. The body was found about a half-mile south of the Utah border in Arizona, south of the junction of the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch.

The body was recovered with assistance from the Coconino County (Arizona) Sheriff's Office and the Utah Department of Public Safety's helicopter.

About 9:30 a.m. Monday, the Kane County Sheriff's Office received a call from the West Chester (Ohio) Police Department to report two overdue hikers in Kane County. Their families told officers they last talked to the men Saturday about 3 p.m. At that time, the men said they were going to hike about five miles into Wire Pass and the Buckskin Gulch.

Based on pictures provided by the family, deputies identified the body found Sunday as York. Searchers then went back to the area to look downstream for the second man. Walter's body was found about 5 p.m. Monday.

"Mr. York was carried close to 10 miles down the canyon by the flood waters and Mr. Walters 7-8 miles. Again, we have witnessed the relentless power and danger of flash flooding in Kane County's slot canyons. Our condolences go out to the York and Walter families," the sheriff's office said.

This marks the second deadly incident this year in Buckskin Gulch. In March, two men from Florida were killed in a flash flood in the same area, while one man in their group was rescued.