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Rafting mishap in Desolation Canyon claims life of Pleasant Grove resident

Sun Advocate reporter

Carbon County Sheriffs Capt. Guy Adams goes over the formal incident report for the death of Laurie Meyers.

On June 7, Carbon County Search and Rescue was called to Desolation Canyon on a recovery mission involving one adult female.

According to Carbon County Sheriff's Office Capt. Guy Adams, the search and rescue team was contacted by a river party at approximately 5:40 p.m. requesting assistance. The river party consisted of 15 central Utah tourists.

"We summoned the Utah Highway Patrol's helicopter to help in a recovery effort," stated Adams.

The sheriff's office representative reported that the 15 passengers boarded five rafts within the Sand Wash area of the lower Uintah Basin on June 6.

"As they entered Jack Creek rapid, the raft carrying Ryan Meyers, Annie Knight and drowning victim Laurie Meyers, struck a rock and capsized," continued Adams.

Adams indicated that Meyers was a 29 year-old Pleasant Grove resident.

"Laurie got caught in an undertoe and was dragged under for approximately 15 to 20 minutes," continued the Carbon sheriff's captain. "Her body was then spotted floating downriver, face down, with her life jacket off."

The victim was pulled from the water and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was administered for 20 minutes, indicated the CCSO captain.

Responding to the scene of the accident was Deputy Rick Adams of the CCSO and Capt. Steve Rugg of the UHP.

According to Adams, the UHP helicopter pilot landed at approximately 6:40 p.m. and recoverd the body which was sent to the Salt Lake City medical examiners officer for further investigation.

"The sheer cliffs on both sides of that area dictate that helicopter was the only safe avenue for retrieval of the body," explained Adams.

According to, rafting trips though Desolation Canyon feature beautiful redrock canyon walls and rock art sites.

The canyon is characterized as one of Utah's best family trips, typically taking between four to six day to raft.

The Meyer's party put in on June 6 and had informed Bureau of Land management officials that they would be returning on June 10, according to BLM official Dennis Willis.

"The group however, docked during the evening hours of June 9," commented Willis.

Desolation River trips begin with a flight or drive to the Sand Wash ranger station in eastern Utah. Though commonly referred to simply as Desolation, this trip actually travels both Desolation and Gray Canyons.

Willis explains that the area of the river at Jack Creek is actually the dividing line between Carbon and Uintah counties.

The site goes on to explain that from the put-in on the river and for several miles downstream, the water is peaceful and quiet.

First time visitors often find it hard to believe that this tranquil flow of water cut a river gorge that in places reaches deeper than the Grand Canyon.

As the rafts proceed downstream, the calm slowly gives way to riffles and rapids. With each day of the trip the whitewater continues to build in intensity.

Rapids are rated on a scale of I to VI, with class I being considered the least difficult, while class IV is considered too dangerous to run. By trips end rafters will have run over 60 class I-III rated rapids.

The site further points out that the areas popularity is not only due to white water buy also because of the rich amount of American history contained in the journey.

"Everyone in the party was wearing their life jackets and all the evidence and information we have at this time points to the fact that this was an accidental drowning," concluded Adams.

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