ZION NATIONAL PARK — A 56-year-old man who injured his ankle during a canyoneering accident had to spend the night in Zion National Park while search and rescue teams coordinated an air rescue.
The accident occurred in the Subway area on Tuesday afternoon, according to Zion National Park spokesperson Aly Baltrus. The man jumped off a small ledge and injured his ankle before the first rappelling area in the Subway. Search and rescue crews were called and deployed to the area.
Crew members found the man, stabilized his ankle and tried to coordinate a landing area for a medical helicopter, Baltrus said. However, due to the terrain in the canyon, the medical helicopter couldn’t find an area to land before nightfall, so search and rescue teams spent the night with the man in the Subway.
Wednesday morning, a crew of eight search and rescue members carried the man out of the canyon, Baltrus said.
The number of visitors to Zion National Park has increased by 20 percent this year and search and rescue crews have been called out several times, Baltrus said. Zion National Park supervisory park ranger Ray O'Neil said the park has seen "a slightly above average" number of rescues this year.
O'Neil said to prevent accidents or search and rescue events, people should be prepared before they attempt a hike or canyoneering trip.
"They need to plan ahead and to be ready and willing to recognize that perhaps a trip isn't for them if they aren't physically ready to do it," O'Neil said. "Just recognize that just because a trip is out there, just because a trip exists, doesn't mean it is the trip for them."
People should also always tell someone where they are going before they head out into the outdoors, O'Neil said.
Contributing: Dave Cawley