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Fatal Week for Hikers: Multiple Incidents Lead to 5 Deaths

Since April 28, at least five hikers have died in four separate incidents in states across the US, including Utah, Georgia, New Jersey, and Tennessee.

Search and Rescue Training at Zion National Park(Photo/National Park Service)
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If you’re planning on going for a hike sometime soon, try to stay safe out there. State officials have reported a spate of hiking deaths recently as more people venture outside with the onset of summer.

The victims ranged in age and location, suggesting that all hikers, regardless of ability level, should take extra care when exploring the outdoors or planning their next activity.

Deaths reported over the last week include a male hiker in Utah’s Zion National Park, a teenage boy in Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park, and a 61-year-old on the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey. And on April 28, two friends in their early 20s drowned while hiking near Chattanooga.

It’s never a bad idea to brush up on safety tips. Check out our guides to safer trail running, thru-hiking and how to save someone from drowning.


Two close friends drowned in Tennessee’s Rainbow Falls Trail on April 28. They were later identified by authorities as Greffania Merilus, 23, and Gulson Elve, 20, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Merilus was trying to cross a fast-moving creek when she fell in, according to a statement from Hamilton County officials. Elve then dived in to rescue her. First responders attempted to save them, but both “tragically” died, officials said.


A 19-year-old man drowned while hiking in Tallulah Gorge on Friday, May 3, according to a statement from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Exauce T. Kabeya from Gainesville slipped into the river above Oceana Falls and failed to resurface, officials said.

A search operation the same day involved multiple state and local agencies using drones and rescue teams. Kabeya’s body was discovered a few hours later.

New Jersey

Raghu Kodali, 61, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was found dead Sunday, May 5, on a part of the state’s Appalachian Trail, officials said. A large-scale search effort lasted 16 hours, WFMZ reported.

Responders finally found the body in Northampton County near the Carbon County line. The cause of death is still pending investigation.

How to survive backpacking in the desert backcountry of Zion National Park; (photo/David Young)
(Photo/David Young)


On May 6, a massive search team of 33 people went looking for a missing hiker in Zion National Park, the National Park Service reported. Rangers later found the man at Scout Lookout.

After an hour and a half of medical treatment, including CPR, a doctor pronounced him dead. Name, age, and cause of death are still pending.

search and rescue

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