SPANISH FORK — A 21-year-old man died early Wednesday after falling in Spanish Fork Canyon late Tuesday.
Ammon Latham, of Orem, fell 80 to 100 feet from an overflow tunnel near the old town of Thistle, which has been empty since a mudslide in 1983, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. Latham was with a female companion who called police when Latham fell around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.
"They went into an overflow tunnel put in place at the time of the Thistle slide and had gone to the opposite end of the tunnel," Cannon said. "They heard a noise, he got up to investigate the noise and she heard him scream or yell and then she heard him fall."
Cannon said the drop at the end of the tunnel was straight down and as long as 100 feet. The woman called 911 and search and rescue, and Spanish Fork Ambulance and a medical helicopter responded.
The helicopter landed on the slide itself and took the man, who was still alive, to University Hospital, Cannon said. Latham died early Wednesday.
The small town was abandoned after the slide dammed the Spanish Fork River. Cannon said the area is supposed to be closed and there are typically "No Trespassing" signs posted there.
"Curiosity seekers go up there, but they're not supposed to be there," Cannon said. "We believed they entered through the side of the Thistle shooting range … where Utah County Sheriff's Office does training."
There have been accidents at the tunnel in the past, but none that Cannon could recall were fatal. The tunnel is not easily accessed and is typically sought out by high school and college students.
"It's not like they're out hiking around and come across this," Cannon said. "If they're up there, that's what they’re up there to see."