- Jetal Agnihotri, 29, a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University, was last seen at the Narrows, a popular section of the canyon near the Virgin River.
Search continues for a 29-year-old Indian American woman missing since Aug. 19 at Utah’s Zion National Park. Jetal Agnihotri of Tucson, Arizona, was last seen at the Narrows, a popular section of the Zion Canyon, near the Virgin River, where several hikers were reportedly displaced due to a flash flood. Zion had received between a half-inch and 1½ inches of rain, The Salt Lake Tribune reported, citing the National Weather Service.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the search for Agnihotri “is concentrated on areas in or near the Virgin River with deep, fast-flowing water.” While “the National Park Service is searching within the park’s boundary, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, as well as dog handlers, are searching the Virgin River south of the park,” the report added.
Sgt. Darrell Cashin with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
told FOX 13 News that the search for Agnihotri “is going to continue as long as we feel there’s a relative chance of locating her,” adding that they plan to continue searching throughout this week. “You know, two and a half days of searching inside the park, not having any luck in locating this young lady, we’ve now moved the search outside of the park through Springdale, Rockville and further south toward Virgin Utah,” said Sgt. Darrell Cashin
On Aug. 19, park rangers initially received reports of multiple hikers being swept off their feet around 2:15 p.m. near the Narrows, “triggering a large-scale response,” The Tribune report said. As one injured hiker was taken to a hospital by ambulance, “other stranded hikers isolated on high ground by high water were instructed to stay in place until the water receded and rangers could help them down to safety.”
A woman who was with Agnihotri before she disappeared told The Salt Lake Tribune that she and another friend had left the area after hearing about flash flooding. Instead of joining the other two, she said Agnihotri wanted to stay and explore the Narrows.
CBS network affiliate station KUTV reported that Agnihotri’s family arrived in Utah and Texas and are holding on to hope she would be found. Her brother Pujan Agnihotri, told the station that his sister had been hiking with friends in the park but decided to leave the group to explore another part. He told KSLTV that his sister could not swim. Speaking to FOX 13 News he said all immediate family, including himself, his wife and his parents, went to the park on Aug. 21 and 22, while the search and rescue efforts were going on. “It has been frustrating and devastating for the family that Jetal has not been found yet,” he said.
Agnihotri is a Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona studying hydrology and atmospheric sciences. Her classmate Yike Xu told KGUN TV that Agnihotri “is very hardworking and a tough girl. I think she will fight that river.”