Large Crowds At Gunlock State Park Make Rescue Difficult

May 3, 2020, 10:21 PM

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah – A 37-year-old woman is lucky to be alive after she was seriously injured while cliff jumping at Gunlock State Park. Rescue crews said they had a hard time getting to her, but large crowds at the park made their rescue even more difficult.

Authorities said there were hundreds of people in the popular waterfalls area below Gunlock Reservoir Saturday when a woman was badly hurt while jumping off the rocks.

“There’s a huge boulder in that pool. In fact, that’s the same boulder that someone hit last year and died,” said Sgt. Darrell Cashin with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s quite large, and I suspect she hit that when she hit the water.”

Officials said the woman was knocked unconscious, and a bystander pulled her out of the water.

By the time rescue crews got there, she was awake, but complaining of back, neck and head injuries.

The only way to get her out was by lifting her up a cliff.

“There is no way out of there if you’re injured,” said Sgt. Cashin. “You can hike out, but you’ve got to go back across the river, and it’s flowing good enough right now that you can’t touch the bottom.”

What made the rescue even trickier was the sheer amount of people.

“It was just way too many people packed in that area,” said Sgt. Cashin.

Search and rescue crews estimated it was in the hundreds.

“When I sent my SAR members up with equipment to try to work it across, they actually called back down and said can we get some help up here? We can’t work through all these people,” said Sgt. Cashin.

State officials said it has been a challenge, at Gunlock State Park in particular.

For the past three days, they’ve had to close the park because of overcrowding.

Officials said they know people are itching to get out, but they’ve asked park visitors to still follow social distancing guidelines, especially when it comes to rescuers.

“I know that other people may not be worried, but some of us do get worried about catching something, especially when we’re out trying to help somebody, and bringing it home to our families,” said Sgt. Cashin. “So if we ask you to back up, just back up.”

Cashin said at this time last year, Washington County Search and Rescue had 38 rescues. So far this year, they’ve already had 49.

They believe a lot of the visitors are coming from out of state where there are stricter quarantine rules.

The woman who was rescued Saturday is from Nevada.

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Large Crowds At Gunlock State Park Make Rescue Difficult