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6 HIKERS RESCUED AFTER 2 LEADERS DIE IN ZION

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After five days of terror, five teenagers and one adult who survived a backcountry hike in Zion National Park were rescued Tuesday by National Park Service crews. Two of the hikers' adult leaders were killed last Wednesday.

The survivors, none of whom was seriously injured, were airlifted to safety Tuesday morning, bringing to an end an outing for a Salt Lake church group that met tragedy when two adult leaders drowned in the frigid waters of Kolob Creek.The party of three adults and five teenagers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Riviera Ward in Millcreek had embarked last week on a scheduled four-day hike through Kolob Creek and the Zion Narrows. The hikers ventured into the canyon Wednesday morning but soon encountered high water moving 25 to 35 cubic feet per second - unusually fast for this time of year.

Later Wednesday, the hikers were moving down Kolob Creek when Dave Fleischer, 24, became caught in a whirlpool. Kim Ellis, in his 30s, pulled Fleischer from the water but was himself sucked back into the pool, where he subsequently drowned. Ellis' son was on the trip.

Ellis' body was pulled out of the whirlpool by the third adult, Mark Brewer, also in his 30s. Brewer attempted CPR on Ellis for about 30 minutes but could not resuscitate him.

The hikers, including Fleischer, then continued down the creek about 150 yards, where Fleischer was again swept over a waterfall and was sucked into another whirlpool. At that point, Brewer realized he must stay with the surviving children and did not attempt to rescue Fleischer.

Neither body has been recovered. The packs containing food for the four-day adventure were also lost in the swirling waters.

The remaining hikers found themselves with no way to cross the whirlpool or retreat the way they had come. Brewer and the five teenagers waited at the whirlpool for help, rationing what little food they had left: candy bars one day and packaged pudding the next.

Search-and-rescue crews from Zion National Park began looking for the hikers Monday when they were reported 24 hours overdue. They located the hikers on the canyon floor about 4 p.m. Monday within a few miles of where they had started the trek.

A helicopter was called in to lift the survivors one by one with a make-shift winch, raising them to a canyon mesa about 1,500 feet above. The helicopter then dropped food and sleeping bags to the exhausted hikers, who spent the night on the mesa top.

The helicopter returned Tuesday just before 8 a.m. and ferried the survivors to park headquarters in two trips.

While the survivors suffered only minor injuries, Stan Smith, a spokesman for the hikers' families, expressed concern over their emotional well-being. "This is a group of 14- to-17-year-old boys who have seen a lot in the past few days," he said. "We are concerned."

The adults leading the backcountry hike were all experienced hikers and were well-equipped with survival equipment and wet suits. Fleischer had made the trip twice before.

"As always, people need to know their limitations," said Denny Davies, spokesman for Zion National Park. "People need to use caution always, take adequate water and have good maps. But these people were experienced."

The teenage survivors were identified as Shawn Ellis, 14; Chris Stevens, 15; Mike Perkins, 17; Josh Nay, 16; and Rick Larson, 16. All were from the Millcreek area.

Zion National Park has been plagued by tragedies this season, due in part to higher-than-normal water conditions. Another hiker was critically injured about two weeks ago while hiking the Subway in western Zion National Park.