SPRINGDALE, Utah — The seven Keyhole Canyon canyoneers who were overtaken by a flash flood in Zion National Park last week have been identified by the National Park Service.
They are Mark MacKenzie, 56, of Valencia; Linda Arthur, 57, of Camarillo; her husband, Steve Arthur, 58, of Camarillo; Gary Favela, 51, of Rancho Cucamonga; Don Teichner, 55, of Mesquite, Nev.; Muku Reynolds, 59, of Chino; and Robin Brum, 53, of Camarillo.
Reynolds’ family remembered her as “a beloved mother, grandmother and friend to many. Hiking was her passion.”
Reynolds, who grew up in Japan and worked at Chino Hills High School as a special education aide, was active in many Meetup.com hiking groups, spending nearly every weekend outdoors, according to Graham Willis, who met her in one such group and summited Mount Whitney with her last summer. He said Reynolds was known for collecting heart-shaped rocks along trails.
Kathryn Burrows, who took a beginner canyoneering course with Reynolds, said in a Facebook post, “I celebrate your beautiful spirit, Muku Reynolds, and I am so thankful that I had you in my life. And I cry because now you are gone and I don’t know how to say goodbye…to a truly good friend who has been an inspiration for me on how to really live life. You will be missed…so much!”
Burrows and Reynolds went on a five-day group backpacking trip to the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon National Park last month and talked about celebrating Reynolds’ 60th birthday, which is in November, by hiking Machu Picchu in Peru. During the backpacking trip, Reynolds talked about the upcoming trip to Zion and was excited about it, Burrows said.
Friend Pat Duhalde told CBS Los Angeles, “She was super excited because she loved Zion. She felt close to God [there].”
Co-worker Colleen Chung told CBS Los Angeles, “She’s a close friend and we used to eat lunch together every day … The chair is there for her.”
Survivors include two sons, Arthur, 27, and Mackenzie, 21, and a one-year-old grandson. The VHC (Valencia Hiking Club) held a remembrance event on Sept. 20.
At least two memorial pages have been established on the GoFundMe website. One, set up by Anthony Insley, reads: “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families affected by the tragic flash flooding that occurred in the Zion National Park. Muku Reynolds was a wonderful person who helped many people in our local community… This fund is to help her sons with anything they may need to get through the difficult times ahead of them.
“Her son Arthur Reynolds is a co-worker of mine and has a true heart of gold. He is a dedicated, hard-working young man who has been through a lot in the short time I have known him. He has always strived to do the best that he can to provide for his family. He recently got a promotion at work and was finally able to rent a place of his own for his young family.
“He often spoke of his mother’s willingness to help with the care of his infant son. He always had kind things to say about her. I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling of loss and suffering he is going through right now. What I do know is that he and his brother are going to need a lot of help and support from all of us out there to get through these tough times.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the site has raised $870 from 21 people toward a goal of $10,000.
Another page, set up by “Ledy M,” states, “Arthur got a chance to meet some of you during yesterday’s VHC remembrance event and was just in awe in seeing how much everyone loved his mother and the rest of our dear friends and the stories you’ve shared with him. Please know that all the proceeds will go to Arthur to help him with the funeral arrangements and legal costs it’s going to take so that he and his son will be able to keep Muku’s house for her grandson to grow up in.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your generous support. I wish I can thank each one of you personally, but it’s impossible. I just know we all love Muku and will miss her dearly.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the site has raised $11,919 from 175 people toward a goal of $12,000.
The latter site announced that a memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m. at Inland Hill Church, 14670 Ramona Ave. in Chino, followed by a potluck.
NPS Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said, “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those affected by the flash flooding in Keyhole Canyon. We have witnessed an incredible community of the family members and friends of the canyoneers come together to support one another. The canyoneers along with their families and friends are in our thoughts.”
The families of the canyoneers extended their deepest gratitude for all of the search-and-rescuers and have also requested privacy during this difficult time.
During the search and rescue operations, over 60 searchers from multiple agencies contributed over 1,135 hours in their efforts to find the missing people.
“We appreciate all of the support from our cooperators and staff for all of their care and assistance,” stated Bradybaugh.
On Sept. 14 at 7:40 a.m., the group picked up their canyoneering permit for Keyhole Canyon.
At 2:22 p.m., the park area came under a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service. The warning was publicized through several media sources and posted in all of the park’s contact stations. Canyons were closed to canyoneering.
Between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., the group entered Keyhole Canyon.
From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Zion Canyon received 0.63 inches of rain in less than one hour. Rangers noted Keyhole Canyon and several other canyons began to flash flood. The flow of the north fork of the Virgin River rose abruptly from 55 cubic feet per second (CFS) to 2,630 CFS in 15 minutes. River levels this high occur approximately once every three years.
At 5:30 p.m., another canyoneering group who had been through Keyhole Canyon just before the flood reported to park rangers that they had passed a group of seven canyoneers and believed that they may have been caught in the flood. Rangers located the group’s vehicles, but did not see any sign of the group. Keyhole Canyon was already flash flooding. Due to weather at the time and through the evening, it was determined that rescue operations could not be safely initiated.
At 9 p.m., park rangers checked on the canyoneers again. There was still no sign of the group.
On Sept. 15 at 7 a.m., the search began. Keyhole Canyon was still inaccessible to search and rescue crews due to weather and high water levels. Searchers were able to follow its course and glimpse into the canyon at several locations. There was no response to verbal calls. The search continued downstream into Clear Creek.
Steve Arthur was located at 1:30 p.m., Favela at 2:30 p.m., Reynolds at 4:15 p.m. and Teichner at 5:15 p.m.
The search resumed on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Due to weather conditions and high water levels, the technical sections of Keyhole Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon were not accessible. Brum was located at 11:15 a.m. and MacKenzie at 11:50 a.m. in Pine Creek drainage.
On Sept. 17, improved weather conditions allowed rescuers to enter the technical sections of Keyhole Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon. Linda Arthur was located at 10:45 a.m. Search and rescue operations were concluded but the investigation is still ongoing.