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Crews rescue 15 Utah youth, adults from ‘treacherous’ slot canyon


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PANGUITCH, Utah — Crews are working Friday to rescue a group of young men and two of their youth leaders who are stuck in a slot canyon in Garfield County.

The young men’s group from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went for a short hike Thursday morning in Sandthrax Canyon. Search and rescue crews dropped food and water for them Thursday evening, said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins.

“We are in the middle of rescuing 15 young men and two young men leaders in one of our most treacherous slot canyons,” Perkins posted on Twitter.

He said crews have been hoisting the group out since 8 a.m. on Friday, and they expect to have them all out by around noon.

One of the leaders might have a sprained ankle, but that is the only potential injury crews are aware of, Perkins said.

The four slot canyons clustered in the area see more search and rescue operations than the rest of the county combined, Perkins noted, adding that people “have no idea what they’re getting into” when they visit.

He urged people who plan to visit the canyons to be aware of the terrain and travel with good gear and extra water.

A helicopter with the Department of Public Safety is in the area to assist, as well as deputies and rope rescue crews.

Perkins called the helicopter the “ace in the hole” for rescue crews.

“If we had to hand hoist 18 people out of the canyon, it would take hours and hours and hours,” he said.