Hiker dies on Cedar Mesa
May 18, 2011 | 5818 views | 0 0 comments | 104 104 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite a heroic search and rescue effort in the San Juan County backcountry, a 72-year-old man from Grand Junction, CO died on May 9.

John D. Slay was pronounced dead after medics from a Classic Lifeguard helicopter discovered him in Owl Canyon on Cedar Mesa.

That morning, Bill Armstrong was hiking in the canyon and found a backpack lying in the trail.  Armstrong found Slay approximately a quarter mile away from the pack.  Slay complained of stomach pain.  Armstrong gave Slay water, retrieved the backpack and set up Slay’s tent and sleeping bag so he could be protected from the wind and rain in the area. 

Then Armstrong went for help, arriving at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station nearly six hours after he discovered the hiker. 

The Classic Lifeguard helicopter was dispatched to the ranger station and attempted to locate Slay. 

In the meantime, another group of hikers found Slay and offered assistance until the medics could arrive.

The hikers said that Slay said he was in the place he would be happy to die and that if he died, he would go in the canyon with a smile on his face.  They also said he spoke fondly of his wife, son, and daughter.

Slay became unconscious and unresponsive while the medics were on scene.  His body was flown to the Kane Gulch Ranger Station then transported by Sheriff’s Deputies by vehicle to Salt Lake City.
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