Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

Searchers Find 3 Bodies in Swollen Stream

Sheriff Ralph Lamb last night was organizing a search posse for seven Salt Lake City Boy Scouts missing and believed drowned in the Virgin River after the bodies of three other youths had been recovered in the flood-swollen stream about 185 miles north of Las Vegas.

Advised of the tragedy by Sheriff Roy Rennouf of St. George, Utah, Lamb began the plans immediately for leading some 40 horsemen, including members of the Sheriff's Mounted Posse, Southern Nevada cowboys and others able to take part in the search through the rough country along the Virgin banks.

According to Sheriff Rennouf's office last night, three boys drowned in the flood which stranded the 35 Boy Scouts in Zion Park over the weekend during a hiking trip.

Seven of the youngsters were still missing last night and Rennouf theorized they had drowned and their bodies washed toward Las Vegas along the swollen Virgin River.

None of the dead or missing had been identified at a late hour.

Sheriff Lamb said his riders would begin the search at Lake Mead, working along the banks toward Mesquite and Bunkerville in a search for the bodies, which might have washed ashore or been deposited by the receding Virgin River.

However, the river was still so flooded last night that it was not expected the posse would leave Las Vegas until 2 or 3 a.m. today. Dep. Oscar Abbott was to notify the sheriff's office here as soon as the water began to subside enough to begin the search.

Because of the rough terrain, jeeps or cars will not be used and Lamb said the posse would require capable riders familiar with the difficult country along the river.

Charles Humberger, assistant superintendent at Zion National Park, said the victims were from Salt Lake City and were in a group participating in a weekend hike.

Names of the victims were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Humberger said the hikers, varying in ages, left the Virgin River headwaters about 16 to 18 miles upstream from the end of the Zion National Park road Saturday morning.

They were heading to the Virgin narrows, where the river canyons narrows to about 10 to 12 feet, pinches between cliffs towering thousands of feet on each side.

The normally placid stream rose by 14 feet swollen by repeated heavy rains. As the 14-foot crest piled into the narrows, it trapped the hikers. Most managed to scramble to higher ground, where they remained until yesterday afternoon.

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