A California couple drowned in a flash flood inside a slot canyon in southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Garfield County sheriff's deputies said Gordon Chapple, 60, and his wife, Kathy, 60, of Walnut Creek, Calif., drowned on Wednesday afternoon while hiking with a group in the Egypt Trail Head area. They were accompanied by their son and daughter, two others and a pair of guides from Wayne County, said sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson.

"The guides said it was just a matter of a few minutes from the time the rainfall started to when the flood hit," she told the Deseret News.

The Chapples' children, Chris and Katie, 30-year-old Liz Fries, 33-year-old Tom Schrupp and their guides, Elizabeth Kleiman and Cody Clapp, were able to cling to the rocks and eventually climb out. The couple were swept away and their bodies found in a drainage downstream. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter retrieved their bodies today.

Fries and Schrupp were flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George Wednesday night and were treated for nonlife-threatening injuries, Bronson said. The others were uninjured.

A searcher said that once you enter that particular slot canyon, you are committed for about three hours before you can come to a place to safely escape, the Garfield County Sheriff's Office said.

"Those slot canyons are probably some of the most dangerous in the world, and people don't understand how dangerous it can be until it's too late," Bronson said. "People don't know that you don't have to see the storm to be hit by the flood."


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com