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RECOVERY OF SCOUT LEADER’S BODY LEAVES FAMILY, FRIENDS GRATEFUL

SHARE RECOVERY OF SCOUT LEADER’S BODY LEAVES FAMILY, FRIENDS GRATEFUL

Family and friends of David Fleischer expressed gratitude and relief Friday at the recovery of Fleischer's body Thursday afternoon from an extremely narrow and rugged portion of the Kolob Creek drainage, 200 to 300 yards from where he drowned on a Scout hike July 15.

"We are very, very, very pleased, and we can't say enough good about what the Park Service did to recover his body," said family spokesman Mark Easton, first counselor in the Granite Park Stake.Easton said Fleischer's wife, Trish, had commented at the start of the search that she did not want anyone to put themselves at risk to recover her husband's body. "She is very happy that no one was hurt and grateful for everything that was done," said Easton.

Funeral services have been scheduled for noon Tuesday, Aug. 3, at the Granite Park Stake, 601 E. Mansfield, South Salt Lake.

Fleischer, 27, and Kim Ellis, 37, died within hours of each other while attempting a difficult hike through Kolob Creek with five teenage Boy Scouts and another adult leader, Mark Brewer, who were rescued on July 19 after being reported overdue by family members. Ellis' body was recovered at that time.

Fleischer's body was found in a slot-canyon section of Kolob Creek that drops over 400 feet in less than a quarter-mile, Zion Park spokesman Denny Davies said. Because of high water levels, searchers could not enter the area until July 27. It was the last section of Kolob Creek to be searched.

"Slot canyons are very, very narrow and higher than they are wide," Davies said. "It was physically impossible to get in there without endangering the lives of the searchers . . . It's a staircase of cascades and waterfalls."

To enable searchers to enter the slot canyon, Washington County Water Conservancy District officials shut off the water flowing from Kolob Reservoir into Kolob Creek July 23, according to an official news release. Four days later, the water in the canyon had receded enough to begin searching for Fleischer's body.

"There was water to be dealt with, but not running water," Davies said. "It wasn't the thundering water the boys encountered."

To enter the canyon, the searchers were forced to rappel 100 to 300 feet down the almost vertical canyon walls, Davies said. With support crews holding the ropes above, the searchers combed the riverbanks and standing pools of water for Fleischer's body.

"(It was an) extremely difficult and technically complicated recovery effort," said David Buccello, National Park Service incident commander.

Officials said more than 30 search and support crew members from six different federal, state and volunteer agencies from Utah, Arizona and California ultimately helped in the search.

"This was a massive effort," Davies said. "We're glad to have it behind us. It's a relief both for us and his family."

Fleischer's body will be transported to Spilsbury Mortuary in Hurricane for return to Fleischer's home town of South Salt Lake, the news release said.