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Utah man shares terrifying experience of Grand Canyon flood


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A Springville man has a terrifying story and dramatic video of a night he spent surrounded by raging floodwater deep in the Grand Canyon.

Brian Codde said, "I never imagined it would happen here. The severity of it, and the quickness of it; it was just surreal." Codde and his companions were saved from being swept over a waterfall by a combination of luck and pluck. Today he shared his story with us.

A possible error of judgment may have put Codde and his companions in jeopardy. But their own quick thinking and mountaineering skills helped them survive.

The beauty of Havasupai drew nine friends on a hiking trip to that part of the Grand Canyon. Codde was among them. They didn't realize the pristine waterfalls soon would become raging brown monsters.

It started with a brief rainstorm. "It didn't rain that hard," Codde said, "so we weren't too worried."

At their campground later, Havasupai Indians warned them a flood was coming. They planned a tentative escape route. But the threat from the river seemed to go away.

"We saw a little rise, and it went back down. We just went to sleep," Codde said.

About half past midnight, they woke up and watched the creek rise five feet in five minutes.

"Within a minute we were ready to go to the escape route, and it was gone. It was a whole ‘nother river," he said.

They climbed onto picnic tables, the water rising under and around them.

"At first, it was kind of, ‘Oh crap, I'm going to lose all my gear.' And it quickly turned into, ‘Oh crap, I might be spending the rest of the night hugging a tree,' or ‘I might not even make it,'" he said.

At their postcard-perfect campground, the big threat was being washed downstream, over one of those beautiful waterfalls.

"It was a fairly big threat," Codde said. "We were all very worried about it. But no one really vocalized it."

The threat eased in the morning, but they were still cut off. A man on safer ground helped them rig a slack line.

"I think everyone kind of had fun going across that. The girls were really good sports, and I know the guys loved it. We rescued ourselves to higher ground. We knew we'd be safe there. So that just made us feel awesome, really good," he said.

Hours later, a rescue helicopter arrived. "We were so excited to get out of there. This was a blast. I mean, it was so fun to be on there and such an amazing experience," he said.

They found out later a dam had broken far above them. It took another day and a total of three chopper rides to get all the way out of the Grand Canyon. Authorities had to rescue hundreds of people, and they did it in stages. Overall, it seems amazing no one was killed.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com

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John Hollenhorst

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