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SALT LAKE CITY — Four women survived the frigid waters of a southern Utah slot canyon thanks to a personal locator beacon one of them decided to bring on the hike.
About 8 p.m. Sunday, Garfield County emergency dispatchers received information from a beacon alert company that four people were stranded and hypothermic in Box-Death Hollow near Escalante, Garfield County. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter took three members of Garfield County Search and Rescue to an area near the coordinates from the beacon, according to a county sheriff's Facebook post.
But by the time team members Jerry Taylor, a Garfield County commissioner, Rick Green and Justin Porter arrived, daylight was gone. Taylor and Green tried to climb into the canyon but the terrain was steep and extremely dangerous, the sheriff's office said.
Rescuers then decided to hoist the women out of the canyon from the helicopter. The operation took until 5 a.m. Monday.
The four women, ranging in age from 40 to 53 from the Salt Lake area, told rescuers that they thought the slot canyon would only contain ankle- to knee-deep water, but after hiking for some time they realized they would be in deeper water and having to swim in some places, according to the sheriff's office.
The women were able to get on a ledge as hypothermia from the cold and wet weather started to set in.
"Luckily one of the women had decided to get a beacon alert before going on this hike or they possibly might not have been located," according to the sheriff's office.
The women were cold, tired and frightened but had no injuries. The Garfield County ambulance crew warmed them with blankets. Taylor gave them a ride back to their vehicle.