KANAB, Utah (ABC4) – The bodies of two men from Ohio have been identified after being discovered in the Buckskin Gulch area near Kanab and the Utah-Arizona border this week.
The two men have identified the two men as Gary York, 65 of West Chester Township, Ohio, and John Walter, 72, of Kettering, Ohio.
Search and Rescue crews believe York and Walter were caught off-guard by flash flooding while they were hiking through slot canyons in the area and were swept away by the rushing water. Police say York was carried 10 miles down the canyon while Walters was carried about eight miles.
Kane County Sheriff’s Office said a group of hikers found York’s body around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, near the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch about a half-mile into Arizona.
A joint recovery mission with Arizona law enforcement recovered the body and transferred it to Arizona’s Coconino County Coroner’s Office. At that time, the identity of the body was unknown, prompting an investigation of cars at different trailheads in the area.
On Monday morning, Kane County Sheriff’s received a call from Westchester Ohio Police Department to report two men missing and overdue in the area. The families of the missing men said they last spoke to them on Saturday afternoon and that the men were going to hike into Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. Photos shared by the families identified Gary York as the first body.
Kane County Search and Rescue teams launched a search for Walters. Starting at the Middle Route trailhead, the Search and Rescue team searched downstream toward the Paria River and found Walter’s body around 5 p.m. on Monday.
In March, three hikers from Florida were caught in flash flooding in the same slot canyons. Two of those hikers had died in the floods while the third was taken to a local hospital.
Kane County Sheriff’s office said we have witnessed the “relentless power and danger” of flash flooding in the slot canyons.
“Our condolences go out to the York and Walter families,” said Kane County Sheriff’s Office. “The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is forever grateful to the many volunteers who have spent so many hours in the last couple of months on these difficult rescue calls.”