David Phillips passed out less then a quarter-mile from the Colorado River.
His 14-year-old friend, Jordan Winegar, rushed on to fill a 2-liter soda bottle while another boy, Mark Coons, stayed behind.Winegar soon returned, his bottle filled with muddy river water. He propped up Phillips' body and tried to drain some of the liquid down his friend's throat. The boys poured the rest on Phillips to cool his body.
Then Coons took his turn to fill the bottle.
"(Mark) ran down to the river and saw a raft," said Kim Coons, while recalling details of a phone conversation with her son the day after Phillips' death Wednesday. "He yelled and screamed and got their attention."
One of the rafters was an emergency medical technician and rushed to help Phillips. The Woods Cross High School student died that evening. An investigation is pending, but preliminary reports suggest Phillips died from heat exhaustion.
Now park and local Scout officials are trying to determine how a Bountiful varsity Scout troop's Grand Canyon excursion ended tragically.
The group from North Canyon LDS 3rd Ward began their hike on Monday along theNorth Rim of the canyon. Phillips and his hiking party of four boys and three adult leaders began following a remote stock trail snaking down into Nankoweap - a rough wilderness area recommended only for experienced Grand Canyon hikers with excellent survival skills.
The path was challenging, and temperatures soared near 112 degrees, according to park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge.
By Wednesday afternoon, the group's water bottles were dry and fatigue had set in. One of the leaders, Guy Davis, believed to be in his 40s, couldn't continue, said the North Canyon 3rd Ward Bishop Robert H. Campbell.
Davis took refuge under the shade of a rock and covered himself with an emergency blanket in hopes of escaping the sun's rays while the others continued toward the Colorado River, said Campbell.
Loren Pace, another leader and experienced Grand Canyon hiker, reportedly dropped out a short time later. Five boys and the remaining leader, Earl Pace (Loren Pace's brother), decided to keep moving toward water, according to Campbell.
Soon the boys were alone because Earl Pace also had to stop. Later, two of the Scouts reportedly opted to wait on the trail while David Phillips, Mark Coons and Jordan Winegar hiked to the river.
Kim Coons said Phillips was about 100 yards away from the river when he collapsed and later died.
Park officials call Phillips' death heartbreaking but add things could have been worse. The EMT from the raft cared for several survivors along the trail, and the river guide was able to contact a commercial plane flying overhead that helped notify park search and rescue crews, said a spokeswoman.
A helicopter arrived at first light Thursday to evacuate the survivors. Rescue crews found the leaders one by one that afternoon, said Gail Winegar, Jordan's mother. Earl and Loren Pace were both reportedly found unconscious but were later revived.
The survivors were flown to a medical center in the south end of the canyon. They were in good condition Friday and expected to return to Bountiful over the week-end, said Campbell.
The expedition was reportedly approved both by Scout and church leaders from the Bountiful Utah North Canyon Stake.
The group also submitted an outing request with the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America on June 1, according to council spokesman Marty Latimer.
Council leaders review each request to ensure leaders are adequately prepared and review adult-to-Scout ratios.
"This (group) was approved for their Grand Canyon trip," said Latimer.
Along with Jordan Winegar and Mark Coons, the teenage survivors were identified as Andy Davis and Joel Kieper.
Jordan's father, Dee Winegar, and younger brother, Lonny, were also on the Grand Canyon expedition but hiked a different route, according to Gail Winegar. They were not injured.
Survival tips for desert hikers
Steve Tabors of Desert Survivors, a national outdoor conservation group, recommends the following for desert hikers:
- Take more than enough water. Drink at least a gallon a day - more during hot weather.
- Pack all your water in. Don't depend on natural sources along the trail; you may be surprised.
- Always hike with an experienced guide familiar with the area.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Don't forget a breathable, wide-brim hat.
- Avoid fatty foods, they focus needed energy on digestion.
- Be mindful of dehydration. If you have a dry mouth, feel sluggish or are perspiring profusely, find shade quickly. Drape cool rags all over body and drink lots of water.
- Rest in shade at least once an hour, more as temperatures rise.