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31-Year-Old Man Canyoneering in Zion National Park Dies After Dangling from Rope Overnight

·2-min read
SPRINGDALE, UT - MAY 14: A sign hangs at the entrance to Zion National Park on May 14, 2020 in Springdale, Utah. Zion National Park had a limited reopening yesterday as part of its reopening plan after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SPRINGDALE, UT - MAY 14: A sign hangs at the entrance to Zion National Park on May 14, 2020 in Springdale, Utah. Zion National Park had a limited reopening yesterday as part of its reopening plan after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

George Frey/Getty

A 31-year-man was killed and two others were rescued after a canyoneering trip went wrong over the weekend at Zion National Park in Utah, the National Parks Service (NPS) announced.

Andrew Arvig, 31, was pronounced dead on Sunday after the park's Technical Search and Rescue Team found him suspended from a rope about 260 feet above Upper Emerald Pools, located at the exit of Heaps Canyon.

"All of us at Zion National Park extend our sympathy to the Arvig family for their tragic loss," NPS Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in a statement.

The NPS said Arvig and two friends visited the park on Saturday morning for a canyoneering trip but ran into difficulties when they tried to rappel out of Heaps Canyon.

Canyoneering is an "outdoor activity that combines route-finding, rappelling, problem-solving, swimming, and hiking," according to the NPS. Zion National Park is known as one of the "premier places in the country to participate in this exciting activity," the NPS states on their website.

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Arvig, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was the first to attempt an exit out of the canyon but rappeled past a ledge where he needed to land to re-anchor his rope and rappel to the ground, the NPS said.

While the two other members of the group used their "pull line" to rappel to the perch, park officials said Arvig was unable to scale the remaining 20 feet to the perch and was left dangling from his rope.

Poor cell phone reception kept the other canyoneers in the group from getting help, but they were eventually able to contact Washington County Dispatch, according to the NPS.

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A rescue operation began Sunday and involved more than 30 rescuers, including a technical rescue team, a helicopter sent from Grand Canyon National Park, and a Life Flight helicopter and crew from Utah, the NPS said.

"[Arvig] was lowered to the ground and later pronounced deceased by a doctor," an NPS statement read. "The Zion Technical Search and Rescue Team assisted the other two canyoneers with rappelling safely to the ground."

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Heaps Canyon is known for being "very physical," according to a description on the adventure review website, Canyoneering USA. The website, Road Trip Ryan, said the area should only be traversed by "experienced and physically fit" adventurers who have "solid" skills.

"Don't attempt this until you have substantial canyoneering experience under your belt," a review of the canyon on the site reads.

The NPS said they are working with the Washington County Sheriff's Department to investigate Arvig's cause of death.

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