A woman hiking with her dog in Mary Jane Canyon near Moab survived being swept away by dangerous flash flood waters last Thursday evening.
The quick-thinking hiker managed to activate an iPhone feature that notified authorities of her location, leading to a dramatic nighttime rescue.
The 38-year-old woman was hiking in the canyon with her dog when flash flooding occurred at around 7:22 PM. According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, the woman reported hearing the flood waters coming and desperately tried to reach higher ground. However, she and her dog got swept away by the raging waters, traveling 150-200 feet down the canyon gorge before reaching a sand bank.
Realizing the imminent danger, the woman quickly activated her iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature, which sends a text message with the user’s GPS coordinates to emergency services. The Grand County Sheriff’s office received the SOS alert text containing the woman’s canyon location, but without details about her emergency situation.
Rescuers immediately sprang into action, deploying both a search team on foot and a helicopter to scan the canyon. The helicopter crew spotted the woman’s dog about two miles downstream from the coordinates sent by the SOS message. However, they were unable to land in the treacherous canyon terrain.
After using the dog’s location to pinpoint the woman’s position, rescuers finally reached her at 9:25 PM, about 1.5 miles from the trailhead. Amazingly, she was uninjured from her terrifying ordeal. However, the flash floods had swept away her shoes, forcing her to hike barefoot.
According to rescuers, the woman was covered head to toe in mud when they found her. She told them she believed her SOS text had failed to send, so she began making her way out of the canyon on her own. A rescuer loaned the woman shoes before the entire party safely returned to the trailhead.
Authorities praised the hiker’s quick action in activating her phone’s SOS feature. They also issued safety tips for canyon hiking, advising the public to thoroughly research routes, watch weather forecasts, and beware of flash floods from distant storms.
Cover photo (illustrating terrain in Mary Jane Canyon) courtesy of: Glenn Merritt