News National Australian tourist dies in Grand Canyon river tragedy

Australian tourist dies in Grand Canyon river tragedy

The Colorado river in the Grand Canyon.
The depth of the Colorado River can change from shallow to deep in seconds. Photo: Getty
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An Australian tourist has died swimming in the Colorado River while on a holiday trip through the famous Grand Canyon.

Kenneth Reece was pulled from the water near Deer Creek Falls by members of his river tour after his swim went wrong.

The party administered CPR and made an emergency call to the Grand Canyon National Park rangers, but attempts to revive the 77-year-old Tasmanian man failed.

The ABC reports that Mr Reece was a former Tasmanian police officer. He was on a commercial trip to the river and was only about five days into a month-long overseas trip.

His brother John told the ABC that Mr Reece was a “family-orientated” man who enjoyed travel.

He said his brother had died doing what he wanted to do.

Mr Reece is survived by his two adult children

His body was recovered by helicopter. His death is being investigated by park rangers and the Coconino County medical examiner.

Park rangers also repeated a warning to other tourists that the Colorado River was different to swimming pools because its depth could change shallow to deep in just a few steps.

There are also strong currents, waterfalls, cold temperatures and underwater hazards such as trees and boulders that can be dangerous to even the strongest swimmers.

Horror year for visitor deaths

Fatalities at the Grand Canyon National Park are not unheard of, with 20 visitors dying in 2017, and 17 in 2018.

The park has claimed its fair share of victims in 2019 too, including three deaths in a horror eight-day period from late March when a Hong Kong tourist fell more than 300 metres while taking photos.

Park rangers have previously warned visitors to hike with caution, especially in summer.

“Anyone hiking in heat needs to balance food and water intake, drink when thirsty, and get wet to stay cool. Heat related illness strikes individuals quickly,” a National Parks Service statement said.

“Continuing to hike, ignoring the symptoms of heat illness, and not taking care of yourself or others can lead to serious if not fatal outcomes.”

-with AAP