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Grand Canyon Fatalities

by Joe Dorish on 22/04/09 at 7:02 am

The Grand Canyon is truly one of the great wonders of the world and over five million people a year visit this scenic wonderland. But every year some of those visitors die in the Grand Canyon.

This article explores the many different ways tourists die while visiting the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is truly one of the great wonders of the world and over 5 million people a year visit this scenic wonderland. But every year a few of those visitors die in the Grand Canyon.

First, the vast majority of people who visit the Grand Canyon each year survive the trip. Since roughly 1880, over 600 people are believed to have died while visiting the Grand Canyon. That works out to only 4-5 deaths per year. A very small percentage of the annual visitors.

So how do people die in the Grand Canyon?

Suicide

It is believed well over 50 people have committed suicide in the Grand Canyon, primarily by leaping over the cliffs. I have written extensively about the phenomena of people ending their own lives in beautiful places. While most suicides are not committed in public places when they are many times people will choose some of the most beautiful spots on the planet to end their lives. This phenomena leaves behind other victims, and in the Grand Canyon that would include the rangers and other park workers who have to deal with the aftermath.

Falling

One time a friend and I had hiked down into the Grand Canyon by one trail and were hiking out another trail. We were moving fast passing many people and suddenly a park ranger came out of nowhere and passed us. He was not running but walking very rapidly up the path and soon he was out of sight. After we had finished our hike we sat in the lodge with pitchers of beer and water and talked about how fast the ranger had been moving. Another ranger heard our conversation and came over and told us that the ranger was rushing to help an old lady along the trail who had suffered heat stroke. The ranger told us that lots of people in the park needed their help on a daily basis.

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37 Comments

Rana Sinha

Apr 22nd, 2009

Good article. Who would’ve thought that so many would have died there from aircraft crashes.

Shari86

Apr 22nd, 2009

Interesting article, well researched and with great pictures.

kate smedley

Apr 22nd, 2009

Another fascinating article, how awful that some people die there. Beautiful photos again.

Jo Oliver

Apr 22nd, 2009

I think this is your best yet. Wonderful info and exciting pics!

BTW: did you see my latest- The A-Z Cocktail Party?

Ruby Hawk

Apr 22nd, 2009

The Grand Canyon is an amazing place. I have never been there but my son said words can’t describe the beauty. He thought it was just astonishing.They hiked down in the canyon and I believe to Bright Star. Is that a waterfall in the canyon? I have forgotten. Loved your writeup.

Daisy Peasblossom

Apr 22nd, 2009

The pictures with this article are beautiful. Hard to remember that all that beauty can be deadly.

Swayam Siddha

Apr 23rd, 2009

thanks for the article. taught me something new tday. Never thoughtthat this happened

Evelyn Moore

Apr 23rd, 2009

Wonderful article – fascinating

Momma Tells

Apr 24th, 2009

Boy, this was an interesting article for me, probably because it is one place I have never visited, but always say I want to. Nice to know that the death number is not as high as I would have guessed.

Rose

May 1st, 2009

There is a great book all about this stuff. I believe it is titled Death in the Canyon. They do update it regularly so if you buy it, it would be current to 2008. What they need to do is sell yearly updates to it or maintain a subscription to the updates. Amazing reading.

Lostash

May 21st, 2009

Nature can be an unforgiving mistress….then throw man into the mix….

true dent

Jun 28th, 2009

dhfhlshdflasf

bernie

Sep 2nd, 2009

stupid.better them not me

chris

Sep 3rd, 2009

i just got back from the grand canyon and its beautiful but one must be carefull when venturing out there. i consider myself to be safe and experienced in the natures element, but i consider myself to be very fortunate to have came home. I took the tour to the west ridge from vegas and i idiotically leaned over the edge to get a better view litterally sticking my head over the edge and many things could have happened to my but i was so into it i didnt really think about falling over. My best advice to anyone going to the grand canyon is put safety as your number one priority and then you can truly enjoy the scenery

Beth Suess

Sep 20th, 2009

Great piece!

Papa Sparks

Sep 30th, 2009

Wonderful, detailed write up!

Brant

Oct 7th, 2009

I just completed a three day hiking trip in the Grand Canyon with seven friends. We barely made it out alive, and I emphasize the barely. All I can say is, always bring about three times the amount of water you think you need and stick to the easier trails if it’s your first time.

xoxo

Oct 9th, 2009

I’ve known grand canyon as a magnificent tourist spot and now I see that there are also some very scary facts here.

Missing Gene

Oct 18th, 2009

The Grand Canyon is beautiful but deadly. Please bring more than enough water. In August, I lost a brother from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Please, please, please, plan ahead. Take all precautions.

james

Dec 3rd, 2009

*sob* lost my whole family there
never going again

Francie Gee

Dec 19th, 2009

This was actually the first article I read after searching
How Many People Die In the Grand Canyon Per Year.
I know all I need to know after reading it. It was well written, to the point, and very interesting.

Shirley

qasimdharamsy

Jan 5th, 2010

interesting article…nice one…

john n. johnston

Feb 5th, 2010

My wife and I visited Grand Canyon in Sept 2001 and really enjoyed our one-day visit.
The fact that death is only a few feet away must be appreciated
by all visitors.
I bought a book: “Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon”,
Ghiglieri and Myers, Puma Press 2001, and is a must read for anyone planning a visit.
This book summarizes deathes frrom many causes (falls, aircraft mishaps, suicides, floods, rock slides, crimes, etc.).
Much info probably is available on the internet.

I plan to visit again in August 2010 with other family members
with safety being the highest priority.

RNDD

Apr 22nd, 2010

Thanks for this interesting article

Janice Vordahl-Corbett

May 5th, 2010

Regarding falling in the Grand Canyon, my brother, Brian Vodahl, died at Tu Weep, west of the North Rim, in 1987. He was hiking alone in the evening, and has not signed in at the Ranger station. He was not aware of the HIGH WINDS that come up in the evening. His car was spotted and the rangers found his body on Easter Sunday, 1987. IT CAN HAPPEN! I say several very foolish people during my visit to the Canyon back in 1995; people extremely close to the rim on hikes. People drinking or on drugs often don’t realize what a Thread holds us to life. Be careful!

elias boots

May 14th, 2010

JK really Good job

R Stone

Jun 16th, 2010

Interesting read…just got back from the North Rim today.

That being said, where is your source for the Powell expedition wherein you say three people were “murdered by Indians or Mormons?”

Jacob Hamblin, a Mormon, worked with John Wesley Powell and helped Powell explore southern Utah and northern Arizona. Hamblin also had an excellent reputation with Indian tribes in that part of the country.

I know the Mountain Meadows episode in 1857 has in the past put a negative light on Mormons, but I wonder if the good the Mormons have done in relation to the Native Americans in the region and the colonization of Arizona have been overshadowed by this singular event.

Just curious to know the source.

Joe Dorish

Jun 16th, 2010

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/canyon/peopleevents/pandeAMEX02.html

The three men left the Powell Expedition just two days before it ended and were reportedly murdered due to mistaken identities either by local Indians who thought they were miners who raped and or shot an Indian girl or by Mormons who thought they were Federal Agents. Nobody knows for sure.

john ellis

Oct 20th, 2010

my grandfather was killed there in 1970 while flying his helicopter for work never got to meet him but i have been told he was one crazy s.o.b john ellis 2010

Sue

Oct 28th, 2010

We was there on 23rd September 2010 when someone either jumped or fell, not sure which. Would be nice to know what happened that day. Anyone out there know?

thoughtful

Nov 23rd, 2010

while it is a shame that the park rangers have to pick up after the suicides, it is part of their job. I don’t imagine that it was too good of day for the suicide victim. Also, I believe that the certainty of the canyon is what attracts some that don’t have gun skills and have been failed by or fear the slowneww of pills and razor blades

mostpopulararticle

Dec 24th, 2010

This article has been indexed inThe Triond Experiment Thanks and goodluck!

Gerry Humphrey

Feb 23rd, 2011

Hi, Enjoyed the comments. Been to the canyon and loved. You do have to be careful walking along the rim paths. Anyone know how I can inquire on a person, that went missing at the canyon in the late 70’s ? Thanks pointlomalight@yahoo.com

Joe Dorish

Feb 24th, 2011

Gerry, try calling the Park Service at the Canyon. They might have records. If not they can probably tell you which local authorities might.

rose-marie

Aug 8th, 2011

I have been in AZ working for the last 6 weeks, today I visited the Canyon with a co-worker, it is as beautiful as it is dangerous, there are not enough rails to prevent people from falling or slipping down. I noticed a lot of careless people hiking and walking around the south rim, if only people knew how dangerous this place is. I think the goverment should put rails around the edges, anyone can slip there easily if not careful. It is definetely not a place for anyone to bring young children. I have not been able to sleep since I got back, is has to do with my fear of heights. The place is amazing!

Becky

Nov 18th, 2011

Loved this article. I first visted the Canyon in 2001..and just got back from my second trip (from Las Vegas this time) in September 2011. During both trips there I saw people taking too many chances…to get a good picture or just to show off without caring how close they are to the edge. I am reading “Over the edge:Death in Grand Canyon” and it is amazing how many people have died. I am on the edge of my seat when I read these accounts. I feel for the family of these victims. If more people would do research before visting then maybe there wouldn’t be so many accidents.

Donna Ebert

Feb 15th, 2012

Visited the Canyon 4 years ago and still think about the visit. It is truly one of the most remarkable, beautiful, and haunting places I have ever been. To walk up and see it for the first time takes your breath away, I was unable to speak for a few minutes. I could not grasp what I was looking at and the amazing beauty of it all. The thing that really got my attention was the quietness surrounding the Canyon, as if all of the noise had been shut off and everyone standing around me vanished. I was mesmerized. Don’t be fooled by its beauty, be very careful and always always be aware of your surroundings and where you are putting your feet, one stupid move could cost a person his or her life in a heartbeat. This is no place to try and show off or act irresponsible. Respect this awesome place and it will leave you with nothing but wonderful memories.

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