Ohio woman dies in fall at Zion National Park

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 12:51 a.m. MDT

"The Subway" is a slot canyon in Zion National Park that gets its name from its tunnel-shaped chamber. A 47-year-old Ohio woman died Thursday after falling more than 100 feet while canyoneering.

Ed Timms, MCT

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SPRINGDALE, Washington County — A 47-year-old Ohio woman died Thursday after falling more than 100 feet while canyoneering in Zion National Park.

Park rangers were notified about 3 p.m. of a serious fall in the Left Fork of North Creek, also called the Subway. Cheri Hass had fallen more than 100 feet and did not survive, park officials said.

The Left Fork of North Creek is a popular canyoneering route, accessible only with a wilderness permit. The seven- to nine-hour route requires navigating past numerous boulders, ledges and waterfalls, as well as wading and swimming through several miles of the creek’s cold water, park officials said.

Hass was completing the 2 ½-mile approach hike to the Subway with friends and was leading the group when she fell, park officials said. Her boyfriend rappelled down to her, while the other two members of the group hiked out and phoned for help, according to park officials.

Zion National Park has requested help from Grand Canyon National Park's helicopter search and rescue crew for assistance in the recovery.

“The park staff extends their condolences to Ms. Hass’ family and friends,” said Jock Whitworth, Zion National Park superintendent. “It is truly a tragedy.”

Thursday's accident marks the second incident this week of a visitor getting too close to a cliff edge, slipping and falling. On Monday, 33-year-old Clark Proffitt fell in Behunin Canyon. Proffitt was wearing a helmet, which likely saved his life. He's being treated at the University Medical Trauma Center in Las Vegas.

“In both instances, we strongly suspect that these events were caused by getting too close to the edge of a cliff,” Whitworth said. “Loose sand on slick rock may have been the cause of the falls. Given the topography of Zion National Park, these accidents could have occurred anywhere, even popular trails in the main canyon, including Angels Landing and Observation Point. All of us need to maintain situational awareness and be extremely careful anytime we are near an edge.”

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