DPS video shows dramatic quicksand rescue in Zion National Park

SPRINGDALE, Utah, Feb. 19, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Department of Public Safety has released video of a dramatic rescue in Zion National Park after a visitor was stuck for hours in quicksand in the middle of a creek.

“The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter was requested by officials at Zion National Park to hoist out a hiker near an area known as the Subway,” said a news release from Utah Highway Patrol.

“The individual had been hiking with a companion when he became stuck in some sort of quicksand. They were unable to free him so his companion hiked out to seek help. National Park rangers hiked back in to assist him during the night and were able to free him, however due to 10 hours of exposure in water the patient needed medical attention.”

A DPS helicopter team flew to the park after receiving the request for assistance. The patient was located and hoisted by the team out to a waiting ambulance.

A news release from the park Monday said Zion dispatch received a report of a 34-year-old visitor from Arizona whose leg was stuck in quicksand. He was located approximately three hours hours up the Left Fork of the North Creek, also known as the Subway route.

“His leg was buried up to his knee and he was unable to free himself,” the news release said. “He had hiked the Left Fork Trail with a companion, also from Arizona, when he became stuck. He and his companion tried to free his leg and were unsuccessful. His companion left him with warm gear and clothing and hiked to call for help.”

It was approximately three hours until she got cell phone service and was able to call 911. Rangers located the companion close to the trailhead and tended to her as she was exhibiting signs of hypothermia, from hiking the three hours to call for help.

Zion Search and Rescue team immediately assembled and began hiking to locate the man.

After several hours, rangers located the man, who was stable but suffering from exposure, hypothermia, and extremity injuries, the news release said. Rangers tried for two hours to free the male’s leg from the quicksand in the middle of the creek.

“Late into the night, rangers were able to free the male from the quicksand and began efforts to rewarm him and treat his leg,” the news release said. “Rangers spent the night with the patient in frigid conditions, with four additional inches of snow overnight.”

The next morning, the Utah DPS helicopter responded from Salt Lake City. “The ongoing winter storms in the area decreased visibility for aircraft all morning,” the news release said.

“After a small break in the weather occurred in the afternoon, the DPS helicopter was able safely extricate the patient with a hoist rescue operation.”

The patient was transported to a waiting ambulance and transported to the hospital.

Winter conditions at Zion National Park can be extreme, especially in the higher elevations, the news release said. Colder temperatures, shorter days, snow, ice, and cold run-off can make easy hikes difficult and strenuous ones treacherous. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution during poor weather events at Zion.

“Presidents Day weekend is often dry, warm, and sunny,” said Aly Baltrus, Zion’s public information officer. “This year was as predicted — cold and wet.”


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