On January 19, Kane County Sheriff’s dispatch center received a call from a female individual who reported that two friends, men in their 70’s, had left hours earlier for what they said would be a two hour drive, and had not returned. The group was staying in the New Paria area of eastern Kane County. The female friend stated that they didn’t tell her exactly where they were going and were not prepared to stay overnight. She waited approximately eight hours before calling Kane County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) for help.

A KCSO deputy gathered more information from the caller and began searching the House Rock Valley area. That lead came up empty. It was close to midnight and conditions turned to snow.

On January 20, the next day, KCSO deputies continued investigating and learned that one of the men had a heart condition and was recovering from a recent back surgery. The challenge was great because search teams did not have a known direction, and weather conditions were hazardous.

KCSO officials put calls out to Garfield and Coconino County Sheriff’s Offices, as well as local BLM rangers, who began to search roads from their respective areas leading to eastern Kane County.

KCSO Search and Rescue operators were called out and deployed to the eastern part of the county with specialized off road vehicles. KCSO Deputies and SAR members drove hundreds of miles of muddy/snowy county roads that the missing men might have traveled on.

It was later learned that these men spoke about possibly trying to find a short cut to Bryce Canyon from where they were camping and that they owned property at Deer Springs Ranch. KCSO deputies and SAR members focused their efforts on all county roads that could access Bryce Canyon. 

The snow and rain continued to fall throughout the day. All major county roads were checked, with no success. Being close to midnight KCSO and SAR crews began closely checking the Skutumpah/Deer Springs area. The snow depth reached approximately two feet.

Kane County Roads Department staff assisted the search by plowing and pushing snow in order to provide better access.

After searching the area for some time, human tracks were discovered in the snow on a side road. The tracks eventually led to an outbuilding where Search and Rescure personnel located the two lost men. The men were in good medical condition, but were cold and hungry.

It was later learned that they had gone nearly 48 hours with just one can of beans to share. After finding the men, crews located their truck, which had gotten stuck a few miles from where they were located. The two men stated that they had stayed with their truck for approximately 24 hours before abandoning it and looking elsewhere.

Kane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all of the SAR members who assisted in this search, along with the Kane County Roads Department and our law enforcement partners in the area. 

We would also like to extend a safety reminder to all residents and visitors:

• Tell someone where you are going.

• Don’t rely entirely on technology (GPS).

• Know your ability and the capability of your vehicle.

• Plan for bad weather conditions.

• Prepare to stay overnight.