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Crews locate 2nd body in Kane County’s Buckskin Gulch

May 23, 2023, 8:53 AM | Updated: May 24, 2023, 7:43 am

The Buckskin Gulch area is pictured in this undated photo. A visitor who had been hiking in Buckski...

The Buckskin Gulch area is pictured in this undated photo. A visitor who had been hiking in Buckskin Gulch was found dead in Paria Canyon Sunday, and police are looking for another hiker who was with him. (Steven Law)

(Steven Law)

KANE COUNTY, Utah — Search and rescue crews have recovered a second body from a southern Utah slot canyon that was hit by flash flooding over the weekend.

Officials with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office said crews were called out to Paria Canyon on Sunday after a group of hikers found a dead body near the Utah-Arizona border.

Deputies located and retrieved the hiker’s body and were investigating the incident when they received a call Monday from an Ohio police department regarding two overdue hikers.

KCSO Lt. Alan Alldredge said photos from family members of the missing men identified the first hiker as 65-year-old Gary York, of West Chester Township, Ohio.

On Monday, deputies began searching for the second hiker, identified as 72-year-old John Walter, of Kettering, Ohio. Crews located his body around 5 p.m.

The two men were brothers-in-law, according to WLWT-TV in Cincinnati.

Taylor Kleiber, Walter’s granddaughter said, “He could do anything. There wasn’t anything that Grandpa couldn’t do.”

York was celebrating his retirement and Walter recently lost his wife, WLWT reported.

“He was definitely excited to go on this trip with Uncle Gary,” Kleiber said. “He was definitely talking it up.”

Family members know something was wrong when they had not heard from them last weekend.

“We knew somewhere between Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday something was really a miss,” said Aaron York, Gary York’s son.

Kleiber said her grandfather was a generous man. “He would give the shirt off of his back to anybody, if there was something you could call him or anybody just to talk to he was there. He was everybody’s everything.”

Alldredge said their investigation found flash flooding occurred in Buckskin Gulch around the time the two men would have been hiking in the area. “It is believed they were caught by surprise and swept away by the rushing wall of water,” deputies said in a statement.

Both men were washed several miles downstream by the floodwaters.

“Again, we have witnessed the relentless power and danger of flash flooding in Kane County’s slot canyons,” deputies said. “Our condolences go out to the York and Walter families.”

Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the United States and one of the longest continuous slot canyons in the world, passing through roughly 16 miles of unique formations and undulating sandstone walls in the northern stretch of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.

In March, two Florida men were killed, 1 man was hospitalized and 10 people were hoisted to safety after flash floods hit the canyon.

Helicopter footage of the rescues from the Utah Department of Public Safety showed the desperate situation many of the hikers were in.

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Crews locate 2nd body in Kane County’s Buckskin Gulch