ZION NATIONAL PARK — A 38-year-old man stranded overnight after breaking his ankle in a fall in a slot canyon at Zion National Park was rescued by helicopter Sunday.
The man, who has not been identified, fell on the first rappel point in the Left Fork of North Creek. Park officials were notified of the fall at approximately 5:50 p.m. via a 911 call.
Aly Baltrus, spokesperson for Zion National Park, said the rescue was delayed because of the predicted oncoming storm.
"Sure enough, from 7 to 10:15 last night we had a flash flood warning," Baltrus said.
Two rangers from Zion National Park and one from Washington County have participated in the rescue so far.
Although Baltrus said the hiker wasn't in a particularly "flash flood prone" area, the rescuers still had to use caution as the storm came in.
"(The rescuers) stayed toward the top and hunkered down there until the flash flood warning passed," Baltrus said.
At 10:15 p.m. the rescuers started to drop into the canyon, and they were able to reach the injured man at about 10:42 p.m.
Due to the severity of the man's ankle injury, rescuers decided to stabilize him where they found him and wait with him through the night.
As of about 8:45 this morning, Baltrus said that the Grand Canyon helicopter crew had been called and were on their way to help with the final stages of the rescue.
"In the meantime, we've raised the patient from the bottom of the first rappel to the top," Baltrus said. "We'll shortfall him from there with the helicopter to a nearby location where we'll have an ambulance waiting to take him."
Baltrus said that to her knowledge the man's fall was not weather related, but the weather "really affected our ability to go in and help. Luckily this person wasn't hurt worse."
Even though the official flash flood warning that closed didn't come until 7:00 p.m., Baltrus said that hikers were warned that flash flooding was probable in multiple locations yesterday.
She urged hikers to use caution when rain is predicted in flash flood-prone areas.
"You are putting yourself at risk, but you are putting the rescue crew at risk also," Baltrus said.