Men from Kettering, West Chester found dead after hiking in Utah slot canyon

Two men from Southwest Ohio found dead after hiking in the Buckskin Gulch in Utah are believed to have been killed by flash flooding.

John Walter, 72, of Kettering and Gary York, 65, of West Chester Twp., were identified Tuesday as the two hikers found dead in the canyon — one of the longest continuous slot canyons in the world, according to a statement posted to social media by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

“Further investigation shows flash flooding in the Buckskin during the time when the two men would have been hiking, and it is believed they were caught by surprise and swept away by the rushing wall of water,” the statement read.

The sheriff’s office was alerted late Sunday morning that a group hiking in the Paria River reported finding a deceased man in the canyon. The coordinates indicated the man, later identified as York, was found south of the junction of the Paria River and Buckskin Gulch and about a half-mile into Arizona.

The West Chester Police Department on Monday morning reported to Kane County dispatch that two hikers, Walter and York, were overdue.

Family members said they had last spoken to the missing men on Saturday, when they said they were going to hike about five miles into Wire Pass and the Buckskin Gulch but had not heard from them since, according to the sheriff’s office.

Photos from the family confirmed that the first hiker found was York.

Search crews on Monday evening found Walter’s body in the canyon, downstream toward the junction with the Paria River.

Walter had been carried about seven or eight miles down the canyon by the flood waters, and York was carried nearly 10 miles, the sheriff’s office said.

It was the same canyon where two men from Florida were killed by flooding in March.

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