‘Like threading a needle’: 17 children rescued from ‘slot canyon’ – 30 hours after they got stuck | American News



Helmet camera footage has emerged of the dramatic rescue of 17 children after 30 hours stuck in a tiny “slot canyon” in the United States.

Utah’s famous canyons – less than 30cm wide in places – attract visitors, rock climbers, extreme canyoneers and geologists from around the world.

A church youth group of 17 children and two leaders were visiting one of the smaller ones, Sandthrax Canyon, when they got stuck.

Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter rescue teams and “rope rescue personnel” were called to the top of the tiny canyon opening after the alarm sounded.

One of Utah's slot canyons.  Photo: Claire Bates (no credit required, just FYI)
One of Utah’s famous slot canyons

The rock formations are so remote that no one knew the group was stuck until one of the organizers waiting outside realized something was wrong.

They then had to drive for over an hour to get a cellphone signal.

By then it was dark – and there is almost no light inside the slits in daylight – so the group was forced to wait until morning.

With the help of skilled helicopter winch operators, they were finally able to get the whole group back up – exhausted and dehydrated but unhurt – at sunrise.

The operation lasted more than five hours, requiring 19 winches and a refueling.

The Utah the canyonlands are regularly above 30C (86F) in the summer.

‘Hot hot hot’

Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins told Sky News: “The helicopter crew that came to rescue the group is one of the best trained crews in the United States.

“Pulling those kids out of the hole was like threading a needle – that’s how they got them out.”

Group of school children waiting to be rescued from a slot canyon in Utah after being missing for more than 30 hours.  Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety
Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety

He said he thought the group had taken the wrong canyon.

“We rescued professionals from Sandthrax Canyon. I think they thought they understood the canyon – but they had no idea what they were getting into.

“There’s no cellphone coverage or radio coverage there – we couldn’t even communicate with the rescue helicopter crew.”

He said some of the children were dehydrated because they had little water.

He added: “There wasn’t enough room for them to lie down – they had to take turns as the space was only about 5ft by 3ft.

“It was hot, hot, hot and they were extremely tired.”

Tactical Aviation Officer Napierski’s helmet camera footage shows members of the group waiting to be hoisted.

A spokesperson for the Utah Department of Public Safety urged visitors to stick to escorted and signed canyons.

“Please come prepared, know before you go, and be safe.”


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