Two hikers die in Utah and a third is injured

Falls took place in American Fork and Neffs canyons over the holiday weekend

(Erin Alberty|The Salt Lake Tribune) Cottonwood, maple and aspen paint a rainbow of colors on the walls of American Fork Canyon on Oct. 9, 2017 in Utah County. The body of a 45-year-old man who went missing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2020, was found Sunday morning in a very steep part of the canyon, authorities said.

Two hikers fell and died during Labor Day weekend in unrelated accidents in American Fork and Neffs canyons

Officers from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office started a search for Thomas James Rawe, 45, on Saturday evening. He was hiking in American Fork Canyon and didn’t show up to meet a friend who arrived to pick him up. The authorities found his body Sunday morning.

Rawe went up to the mouth of the canyon to fix an American flag that was bending over near the location. He had 1% battery on his phone when he texted his friend a photo of a meeting spot. His friend did not expect to hear back from him but, after waiting several minutes, he called for help, said Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Because the terrain where Rawe was last seen was rugged and it was dark, the officers called off the search for the night. They resumed the efforts Sunday morning, along with the Utah Department of Public Safety, and located the body on a steep part of the canyon, Cannon said.

“He’s mostly from Alpine, but he kind of travels around,” said Cannon. “His family refers to him as the favorite uncle. So a very nice guy who just loved being in the outdoors.”

There was another accident on Monday morning at Neffs Canyon. Kurt Lawson, 22, of Seekonk, Mass., fell approximately 30 feet while hiking. Authorities were called to the area, but Lawson was pronounced dead before they could get him to a hospital, said Arlan Bennett, detective at the Unified Police Department. The victim’s identity has not been released.

In a different accident, an 18-year-old woman fainted and fell on Mount Timpanogos in American Fork Canyon on Monday. She hit her head and remained unconscious for a period of time, Cannon said. Public safety officials transported her down the mountain in a wheeled rescue basket. She eventually regained consciousness, and officers expect her to recover.