Three days after a hiker went missing, Zion National Park officials said they were still looking for her.
The National Park Service reported on Monday that they were still looking for missing person Jetal Agnihotri, 29. The search party has been expanded to include deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, who have moved south to the park’s southern edge to look around the Virgin River.
After two and a half days of scouring inside the park without success, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Darrell Cashin revealed that they had expanded their search to include Springdale, Rockville, and southern Virgin, Utah.
According to Sergeant Cashin, the search for Agnihotri involves a total of 26 individuals. According to him, there have been difficulties in the hunt.
According to Sgt. Cashin, “I guess partly just the water carries so much junk in it and so much silt in it that when you just put your hand in it, you can’t see your hand anymore.” The water is so foggy that it resembles chocolate milk.
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Sgt. Cashin claims the situation worsened because of the rain on Friday and Saturday.
Flooding, according to Sgt. Cashin, “almost makes you have to restart because it might turn up things you didn’t notice before, very things that, that were there.”
A flash flood on Friday swept through the Narrows area of the park, where Agnihotri was last seen. There were reports of hikers getting swept away by the flooding at the time, and the National Park Service responded accordingly.
The park staff didn’t find out the 29-year-old Arizona lady was missing from her excursion to the Narrows until later that night.
After hearing reports of flash floods, the woman who was last seen with Agnihotri said she and another friend had left the area and were unable to contact her. Mostafa Javadian claimed that Agnihotri didn’t want to go with the other two but instead stayed to investigate the Narrows.
More than 20 members of the Zion Search and Rescue Team looked for Agnihotri in the area around the Virgin River, but without luck.
Zion National Park Public Affairs Specialist Jonathan Shafer said, “We want to be able to cover as much territory as we can, and so that’s why we’re working with our partners both inside and outside the park so that we can continue our search.”
The Narrows and the Riverside Walk will stay closed, but the search will not impact the other Zion attractions, according to park authorities.
In the hopes of locating Agnihotri, Sgt. Cashin has stated that rescue operations will continue during daytime hours.
Sgt. Cashin has stated that they will keep looking for the missing woman for as long as they believe there is a “relative likelihood” of finding her.
Sergeant Cashin stated that the hunt would last all week. After that, they may consider calling in backup, such as K-9s or the Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter, to make sure they haven’t missed anything in their search.
He added that he, his wife, and her parents are currently residing in Hurricane. During the search and rescue operations on Sunday and Monday, they proceeded to the park.
According to Pujan, the fact that Jetal has not been located has been aggravating and distressing for the family.