Park: Michigan woman dies in Grand Canyon flash flood

·2 min read

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — Grand Canyon National Park officials on Friday identified a Michigan woman as the person found dead in frigid water after a flash flood swept through a commercial rafting group's overnight camp site along the Colorado River.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also issued an emergency declaration Friday in Coconino County, which he said will make up to $200,000 available for response to flash flooding in the Flagstaff area.

Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, was found Thursday near the Grand Canyon camp washed away Wednesday evening by a torrent of water that rushed through a slot canyon, park officials said in a statement.

Copeland was a passenger on a commercial rafting group that had set up its overnight camp at an established site about a quarter of a mile (0.40 kilometer) from the slot canyon, National Park Service spokeswoman Kaitlyn Thomas told The Associated Press.

A different commercial rafting group found Copeland and that group also found an uninjured second person who also had been reported missing, the statement said.

Five injured people, including one in critical condition, were evacuated by air from the canyon, the statement said. Their identities weren't released.

The injured were “very seriously bludgeoned by debris," Thomas said.

Thomas said she didn't know whether the other group that found Copeland and the uninjured person was actively searching for them at the time. “I am confident that the river community did know something was up but I imagine they were on the lookout."

The National Park Service was investigating the incident in coordination with the Coconino County medical examiner, the statement said.

The flood hit the camp set up about 40 miles (64 kilometers) downstream from where the rafts launched at Lees Ferry near the Arizona-Utah state line, turning the normally greenish-colored river into a muddy brown.

Forecasters had issued a flash flood watch for the area Wednesday, but it wasn't clear whether the rafting guides were aware.

The flood was part of monsoon storms that have inundated Arizona this week, including in Flagstaff where streets in some areas were left a muddy mess as water mixed with logs and debris swept through.

Ducey said the city of Flagstaff and Coconino County have activated their Joint Emergency Operations Center and have an incident management team actively responding to the ongoing emergency.

“Severe post-wildfire flooding is creating dangerous challenges for communities in northern Arizona,” he said in issuing the declaration on Friday. “The flooding is causing road closures, damaging property and putting Arizonans' safety at risk.”

The entire Southwest, which has been desperate for rain after two years of dismal monsoon activity, has been hammered lately with storms. More rain is in the forecast.

The Associated Press

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