Facebook Twitter



I fully extend my condolences to the wives and families of the two men drowned in Kolob Canyon. I know exactly how they feel. My own father was drowned in the Zion Narrows of the Virgin River in the fall of 1961. Without warning, he and four 17-year-olds were swept away in a flash flood caused by a freak thunderstorm over Cedar Breaks. Only three of the five were found. My father was leader of that group and he felt responsible for every member of the group. My mother and the three of us children have lived with that memory for these 35 years.

This 1961 trip was planned so as to be in the dry season: the fall, so as to avoid the spring runoff. The river was known to have unexpectedly high, fast uncontrolled waters. Weather conditions were checked to make sure there was no chance of rain; the 30-mile hike would not have been undertaken if there was the least chance of danger due to rain.Even though all these conditions were met, an unusual warm front hit the high area over the breaks and sent a flood of debris, pine cones, limbs, dirt, gravel, rocks and boulders, "some as big as cars," down that narrow canyon and gave it a good scouring. There were 27 people at the start of the hike. Twenty-two came out wet but alive.

With this in mind, I decry the settlements made by the irrigation companies, Park Service or anyone else for indemnifying those taking a group of inexperienced people to this area in the spring. The spring is runoff season, there are leftover snowdrifts, unused trails, unstable winter-swollen cliffs and loose rocks. They took risks that were unnecessary, and having made those choices, no one else should be responsible for the disastrous results except themselves and their unfortunate families.

I'm not after my pound of flesh and am not looking for sympathy but rather making the point that there are inherent dangers in any undertaking, be it flying, sailing, climbing or even driving. I ask myself, who would have been asked to indemnify an automobile accident on the way down to the area? I just think there should have been courage enough to say "it was our own fault."

J.W. Scott

West Jordan