CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia man died over the weekend while canyoneering in Utah’s Zion National Park.
31-year-old Andrew Arvig was pronounced dead Sunday after search crews found him suspended from a rope about 260 feet above Upper Emerald Pools at the exit of Heaps Canyon. Two other people who were with Arvig were rescued from a nearby rock perch about 280 feet above the pool.
The National Park Service said in a press release the crew started their expedition early Saturday morning, but they were delayed after having difficulty with the last few rappels to exit Heaps Canyon, which is considered very treacherous with “potholes” of cold and potentially freezing water that canyoners have to go through.
Arvig was the first in the group to exit Heaps Canyon and needed to land on the rock perch 280 feet up in order to rappel the remaining distance to ground level, but rappelled past the ledge by about 20 feet. He was unable to ascend to the perch and remained suspended until search crews arrived.
The two other canyoners with Arvig were able to use their “pull line” to rappel to the perch, the park service said. They were finally able to reach dispatchers via cell phone on early Sunday morning after several failed attempts due to poor reception, and were helped to the ground safely by the park’s technical search and rescue team. The operation overall included more than 30 rescuers and two helicopters.
No other details were shared in the release, and Arvig’s death is still under investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service.
“All of us at Zion National Park extend our sympathy to the Arvig family for their tragic loss,” said NPS Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Arvig’s home state.