Moab residents Kenneth Knight, 70, and Vereald Dickerson, 72, hiked down into the Mill Creek drainage from the area of Highland Drive to go fishing at approximately 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20. The two friends went in separate directions to fish different areas of the creek, but later in the day, when Dickerson returned to his vehicle, which was parked at a trailhead, he was unable to make contact with Knight, according to a news release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
Dickerson contacted another friend, who is also a member of Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR), for help, but when Knight still could not be located they called the sheriff’s department, according to the news release.
A search team that included 12 GCSAR members searched the Mill Creek drainage from three separate entry points in an attempt to locate Knight while a Classic Lifeguard helicopter searched the area from the sky. Searchers eventually found some of Knight’s fishing gear on the ground near a part of Mill Creek that was iced over at the banks but still had running water in the creek’s center.
“We became concerned he might have fallen into the creek,” said GCSAR Commander Jim Webster.
The team began using long poles to break up the ice shelf at the edges of the creek and at that point the searchers heard Knight’s faint call for help, Webster said.
At approximately 2:30 a.m., the rescue team eventually located Knight. They discovered he had hiked east from the creek and had slipped and fallen into a narrow crevice between two sandstone fins. Because he could not be extricated through an opening at the bottom of the crevice, search and rescue workers had to rig ropes at the top of one of the fins, approximately 200 feet from the canyon bottom, to pull Knight out, Webster said.
A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter flew to the scene from Cedar City and assisted with flying in emergency gear and transporting rescue workers, as well as providing medical help to Knight. Two Grand County Emergency Medical Services workers also helped at the scene. A search and rescue worker was lowered into the crevice to provide assistance to Knight until the man could be pulled free.
“It was a very difficult operation,” he said. “We set up a raising system using a couple of 300-foot ropes. They hooked the ropes on [Knight] and the rescue worker with him and raised them up to the shelf on the fin.”
At approximately 9:30 a.m., Knight had been safely extricated from the crevice and flown to the Grand County Emergency Operations Center on south U.S. 191, where an ambulance transported him to Moab Regional Hospital for medical treatment, according to officials from the sheriff’s office.
Details of Knight’s injuries were not released, but Webster said the man appeared to be in good condition.
“He was in remarkable shape,” Webster said.