One dead after fall in American Fork Canyon

Sep 5, 2022, 12:39 PM | Updated: 5:35 pm
(Utah County Sheriff's Office)...
(Utah County Sheriff's Office)
(Utah County Sheriff's Office)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — The body of a 45-year-old Alpine man was recovered Sunday morning after authorities say he fell while climbing in American Fork Canyon.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were called to a report of a man missing while climbing near the mouth of American Fork Canyon.

“The missing man, Thomas James Rawe, age 45, Alpine, sent a text message to a friend asking him to pick him up at the Forest Service fee booth near the mouth of American Fork Canyon on State Road 92 in 45 minutes.  He was hiking or climbing in the area and was on his way down,” read a Monday afternoon press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said Rawe also sent the friend a picture that showed the steep terrain and the fee booth.

The friend arrived at the location, but Rawe did not show up.

“He told his friend his phone was at 1% battery so initially not hearing from Mr. Rawe was not a surprise,” the release stated.

After Rawe was reported missing, members of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue responded to the scene. They searched for a couple of hours in the dark, but the operation was eventually called off that night “because of the dangerous nature of the terrain.”

Early Sunday morning, crews returned to the area and called for helicopter assistance from the Utah Department of Public Safety.

“Shortly after the DPS helicopter arrived one of their crew members located what they believed to be the body of Mr. Rawe on a very steep, rocky slope. A SAR team member was flown to the area and confirmed it was Mr. Rawe and that he was deceased.”

Due to the difficulty of the terrain, deputies said a second volunteer was flown to the area to secure Rawe’s body, which was then hoisted by the DPS helicopter crew to a nearby parking lot.

“While we don’t know specifically happened to cause the fall, it is likely Mr. Rawe lost his footing or stumbled, then fell and tumbled several hundred feet down the steep slope,” the release stated.

Deputies said Rawe was single, adding that he was described to them as the “favorite uncle” of his nieces and nephews.

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One dead after fall in American Fork Canyon