On Monday, August 22, Jetal Agnihotri of Tucson, Arizona, was found in the Virgin River near the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park and was later pronounced deceased by a medical examiner. The National Park Service has ended the search and rescue operation that began on Friday, August 19.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the friends and family of Jetal Agnihotri,” Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent said.
More than 170 responders contributed to operations over the course of the four-day search and rescue operation. Zion National Park extends thanks to our partners:
Bureau of Land Management
Color Country Interagency Fire Center
Kane County Search and Rescue
Hurricane Valley Fire District
National Park Service staff from Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Springdale Police Department
Utah Search Dogs
US Forest Service
Washington County Search and Rescue
Washington County Sheriff’s Office
These responders worked inside and outside the park. The response involved work by swift water trained rescuers, search dogs, and a total of more than 1500 person-hours searching in and near the Virgin River.
During the search, park rangers closely monitored the weather. Several seasonal monsoon rains increased flow in the Virgin River to a peak of more than 1100 cubic feet per second. The river was flowing at about 50 cubic feet per second when the Zion Search and Rescue Team ended their search.
Zion National Park received a report around 2:15 p.m. on Friday, August 19, of multiple hikers being swept off their feet by a flash flood in the Narrows near the Temple of Sinawava.
After receiving the initial report, the National Park Service immediately sent rangers to assess the situation and began mobilizing for a large-scale response. Near the Temple of Sinawava, park rangers found an injured hiker who had been swept downstream several hundred yards. A National Park Service ambulance transported the hiker to a hospital.
Other rangers hiked up Riverside Walk and found several hikers who were isolated by high water on high ground. Rangers directed them to remain in place until water receded and then assisted them to safety.
Zion National Park maintenance staff who had been doing other work on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive immediately moved to positions along the Virgin River to monitor conditions there. Park rangers and members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team deployed along the Virgin River with flotation devices and ropes prepared to reach visitors who might be in the water.
Throughout the afternoon and evening of August 19, Zion National Park rangers interviewed groups of visitors exiting the Narrows and Riverside Walk to ensure they were not missing a member of their party. At that time, no hikers were reported missing.
Later in the evening, the National Park Service received a report of a hiker, Jetal Agnihotri of Tucson, Ariz., who was overdue from a trip in the Narrows. In response, park rangers continued monitoring the river during the night and mobilized additional searchers early on August 20. Zion Search and Rescue Team members as well as staff from many partner organizations worked in and near the Virgin River searching for Ms. Agnihotri.
The search ended on Monday, August 22, when Zion Search and Rescue Team members found the missing person, Jetal Agnihotri, in the Virgin River near the Court of the Patriarchs. The Court of the Patriarchs is about six river miles south of the Narrows.