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Father and son found dead in Utah national park

Published April 8, 2013 5:42 pm

Canyonlands • Bodies found with gunshot wounds in the head.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two men were found dead on Saturday in the Maze area of Canyonlands National Park, a case the Garfield County Sheriff's Office is investigating as a possible double-suicide.

Paul Henderson, assistant superintendent for Canyonlands, said the two men, a father and son, were each found with a single bullet wound to the head from a semi-automatic handgun found between their bodies.

Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said the case was still under investigation.

"It looks like a double-suicide, but it's still an open investigation," Perkins said. "We're convinced there was nobody there besides the two individuals."

Sheriff's deputy Raymond Gardner identified the men as Aarron Olvera, 40, and his father Dennis Olvera, 65. Both men were from out-of-state, although their exact home states weren't immediately confirmed Monday.

Park rangers discovered the Olveras' bodies at Lou's Springs, where they had apparently been dead for a few days, Henderson. Park Service officials began searching for the pair after a family member reported the men overdue from an extended hiking trip though the Maze.

Gardner said the two men had enough food and water with them, and there was no sign of immediate physical distress before their deaths. Their bodies are at the Medical Examiner's Office in Salt Lake City, where an autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed. Gardner said that even after an examination, it could be hard to determine whether one killed the other before taking his own life or whether both decided to commit suicide.

"We may never know," Gardner said. "It certainly is a bizarre incident."

Henderson said he didn't know of any other suicides reported in Canyonlands while he has worked there, but added that people have been known to take their own lives in park lands.

"A lot of times people want to go to a place that they've had a good experience in," Henderson said.

The Maze is in a secluded district to the west of Canyonlands' borders and is accessible only by a dirt road beginning at the Hans Flat Ranger Station that requires a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion