2 hikers found dead in Kane County slot canyon identified
Mar 15, 2023, 4:41 PM | Updated: Mar 16, 2023, 5:31 pm
UPDATE: The two hikers found dead in Buckskin Gulch, a slot canyon above the Utah/Arizona state line, were identified Thursday.
According to Lt. Alan Alldredge with Kane County Sheriff’s Office the two deceased hikers were identified as Bill Romaniello and Jeff Watson of Florida.
The hiker with that group that survived and remains in the hospital, was identified as Ed Smith.
The original story proceeds below.
ARIZONA — A body was found in Arizona Wednesday following a search over several days for overdue hikers. The search began when flash floods hit a slot canyon above the Utah/Arizona state line called Buckskin Gulch, endangering three hiking groups Monday.
One man was found alive, one was found dead and one remained missing, presumably until Wednesday’s discovery.
According to Lt. Alan Alldredge with Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the body was discovered in the last hour on the Arizona side of the border and teams are working to retrieve it.
Alldredge said that they were all holding out hope that he would be found alive.
“The individual was in good health. He’s got some background in survivalist type training, military type training knows what he is doing,” Alldrege said. He’s familiar with this canyon.”
Alldredge said they can’t confirm it is the missing hiker until an autopsy is performed.
Three different groups were found in Buckskin Gulch following some calls for help when heavy rain and runoff water created a dangerous situation. Eleven people were safely hoisted out of the canyon, and one of those was transported to the hospital.
Helicopter footage of the rescues from Utah Department of Public Safety shows the desperate situation many of the hikers were in. One man was seeing lying by a body of water unable to even get up, only waving his hands slightly.
Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the USA, draining part of the Vermilion Cliffs around the Utah/Arizona state line, and meeting the Paria River.