VENTURA (CBSLA.com/AP) — An off-duty Ventura County Sheriff’s sergeant was among the six people killed in Utah’s Zion National Park after flash floods swept through the area on Monday.
Steve Arthur, a 21-year veteran of the Sheriff’s office, was hiking with his wife Linda in the park when heavy rains suddenly began to fall, fueling floods that “went from a trickle to a wall” of water, park ranger Therese Picard said.READ MORE: Man And Woman Shot To Death In Gardena
Arthur’s group secured a permit to hike Keyhole Canyon earlier that morning — hours before a flash flood warning prompted park officials to close the canyons. By that time, park officials say there was no way to reach them in time to alert them to the violent floodwaters coming their way.
The search for the hikers was cut short on Monday by darkness and rescuers continued their search Tuesday morning. The canyon was still inaccessible, but teams started following its course and calling down to the missing hikers with no answer.
The first body was found near the mouth of the canyon Tuesday afternoon, and a private canyoneering group came across the second an hour later.
Arthur was positively identified as one of the flood’s victims. Linda Arthur is still missing and a recovery effort is ongoing.READ MORE: Local Doctors Flying Back From Super Bowl Save Woman's Life On Plane
Arthur was 58 years old. He is survived by three adult children and seven grandchildren.
He was known within the Sheriff’s department for his “tireless efforts working with local youth, both on and off duty,” Sheriff Geoff Dean said in a statement. “[He] possessed a huge compassion for humanity.”
The flood was one of the deadliest weather-related disasters at a national park in recent history, park service officials said. It evoked memories of a 1997 incident near Page, Arizona, where 11 hikers died after a wall of water from a rainstorm miles upstream thundered through Lower Antelope Canyon, a narrow, twisting series of corkscrew-curved walls located on Navajo land.
The deadly events at Zion happened at the same time flash floods tore through a small community on the Utah-Arizona border just south of the park, leaving at least 12 people dead who were in two cars who were swept up Monday by swift water, mud and debris in a canyon.
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