Park: Michigan woman dies in Grand Canyon flash flood

Weather Headlines

This photo provided by John Dillon shows the effects of flooding in the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on Thursday, July 15, 2021. The river that’s normally a greenish color turned a muddy brown from flash floods that have inundated Arizona. Authorities are searching for two people who were on a river rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and went missing after a flash flood, a park spokeswoman said Thursday. (John Dillon via AP)

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — 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.

Rebecca Copeland, 29, of Ann Arbor, was found Thursday near the 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 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.

This drone image provided by the Golder Ranch Fire District shows firefighters safely rescue a man and his two daughters from the roof of their vehicle after it was swept away in fast moving water just north of Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (Golder Ranch Fire District via AP)

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 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.

A crew using hand tools and a bobcat work to clear streets after flash flooding in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. The threat of flash flooding will remain through next week, the National Weather Service said, though the coverage will be more scattered than widespread. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

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.

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.

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