Three young men, ages 15, 16 and 22, disappeared in the waters of the Colorado River at Phantom Ranch. The incident occurred Thursday morning, April 30, 2009.
The three were in a larger group which planned on hiking from the South Rim to the river and back to the Rim in a day. The group was hiking down the South Kaibab trail, and on approaching the tunnel at the Black Bridge, four young men diverted from the trail down to the river, on the south side, apparently intending to swim across the river. One turned back after briefly entering the water. The other three attempted to swim across and were swept downstream. They were last seen alive in the turbulent river water along the south bank by the Silver Bridge.
The body of one of the victims was recovered at mid-day in an eddy on river right below Phantom Ranch by Grand Canyon National Park rescue personnel. A commercial river trip conducting a passenger exchange at Phantom Ranch assisted in the search, along with National Park Service helicopter crews and river rangers using a sport boat. NPS is continuing the search, concentrating on the section from Boat Beach to Hermit Rapid (river mile 95) but the other two young men are presumed to have drowned.
The last time such an event occurred was in 1995 when two males drowned attempting to swim across the river in two separate incidents. Their bodies were recovered within the following three weeks, six and twenty miles downstream of Phantom Ranch, respectively.
Should river runners encounter a dead body on a river trip, the NPS asks that the body be secured in place, if it is possible to do so safely, and the National Park Service be notified immediately by satellite phone. The Grand Canyon National Park river emergency phone number is 928-638-7911.
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