An Indian-origin Arizona woman who was swept away by a flash flood in Zion National Park, Utah, last week was found dead. Jetal Agnihotri, 29, was found dead on Monday, about six miles downstream from where she is believed to have been swept away by the Virgin River which turned wild on Friday following the flash flood.
A chilling video taken by Agnihotri's brother has emerged that according to her family, shows some of the final moments when Agnihotri struggles to stay afloat as they are swept away. Agnihotri's death is the latest reminder of the dangers of hiking in the narrow red rock canyons in the southern Utah park during monsoon season.
The search for Agnihotri of Tucson, Arizona, began in response to a group of individuals being "swept off their feet" by high flood waters on Friday. According to National Park Service, her body was found in the Virgin River close to the Court of the Patriarchs in the park, about 6 miles from where she is believed to have been swept away.
She was pronounced dead medical examiner, the park added.
"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the friends and family of Jetal Agnihotri," Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent, said in the release.
During the flooding, her own brother captured some chilling footage of two people struggling to stay afloat. According to Agnihotri's family, they think the video captures some of her last moments.
The video shows a man being swept downstream, and there is another person in front of him who appears to be partially submerged. The family believes the second person is Agnihotri. The terrifying footage shows the man wearing a life jacket and clinging on to what appeared to be a log rushing down the charging river.
In front of him, a woman appears to be struggling to keep her head above the surface as he reaches for her.
Agnihotri chose to tackle a section of the park known as the Narrows, a riverbed at the base of a steep ravine that involves wading through water on a good day, despite flash flood warnings and the fact that she is unable to swim.
According to reports, Agnihotri's friends reportedly decided to stay home when they learned about the flash flood warnings, but Agnihotri, ready to go ahead and hiked the Narrows by herself. When she failed to show up near the tourist center's parking lot where they agreed to meet, Agnihotri's pals called for assistance.
Agnihotri's death is a big tragedy for her family but from what her friends said, too too is to be blamed to a great extent for her own death. "She is gone," her brother Pujan Agnihotri told local CBS affiliate KUTV.
He had come from Texas to help find her. Their parents also traveled from Arizona to Zion National Park during the four-day search.
She was a graduate student at the University of Arizona, taking a trip with her friends to end the summer before returning to class. Mostafa Javadian, a friend who was with Agnihotri, told Fox affiliate KSTU they wanted to visit Zion National Park before starting the fall semester at the University of Arizona.
Javadian and his friends left as soon as they learned that there were flash floods nearby.
Agnihotri, on the other hand, said that she wished to remain and explore the Narrows. Around 5:30 that evening, she was supposed to meet them at a nearby parking lot, but she never did.
The Virgin River, which flows through the center of Zion, flooded after the southwest was hit by a downpour of rain that dumped up to eight inches of rain in some sections of New Mexico and left parks around the region under flash flood warnings.
Zion was completely swept by the flooding, while in other parts of the region, people were forced to spend Saturday's nine-hour huddle inside the visitor center at Carlsbad Caverns National Park with scant food supplies.
Similar floods in earlier years have generated walls of water as high as buildings, submerged automobiles, rolled rocks, and uprooted trees. In a comparable storm in the park in September 2015, seven people perished through drowning, and 12 more people perished in a nearby town.