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A woman and her dog were swept away by flash flooding that suddenly surged through a Utah slot canyon. They were saved after the SOS emergency feature on her iPhone notified rescuers.

Photo of canyon with water flowing through it; photo fo big red rock arch
Mary Jane Canyon, located east of Arches National Park, and Delicate Arch, located with the park.G. Sherrill, Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue; Getty Images
  • A woman was hiking with her dog in a Utah slot canyon Thursday when she heard flash flooding coming.

  • She tried to get to higher ground, but she and her dog were washed away along with the sand bank.

  • Rescuers were able to find them after she used the emergency satellite SOS feature on her iPhone.

A woman and her dog were swept up to 200 feet away by flash flooding on Thursday after water surged through a slot canyon in Utah, according to the Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue unit.

The 38-year-old woman was hiking with her dog in Mary Jane Canyon, located about 10 miles east of Arches National Park, when she heard the flooding coming and tried to get to higher ground.

"She reached a sand bank above the creek with her dog, but the rising water eroded the sand, sending both her and the dog into the flood waters," GCSAR said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The woman and her dog were carried away about 150 to 200 feet, during which she lost her shoes.

She then used the emergency satellite SOS feature on her iPhone to send a message for help.

The Apple feature, which is available on some iPhones, can be used to contact emergency services in areas where there is no cell reception. It can be triggered manually or automatically by Crash Detection and Fall Detection software. The feature taps satellites, rather than cell towers, to contact emergency services when an iPhone is out of range, connecting the iPhone user to an emergency call center, which can collect information and notify rescue services.

However, the woman got a message back to her phone that said, "Emergency Services: Message Send Failure."

"Believing that her SOS had not been transmitted, she began hiking down the canyon barefoot with her dog," GCSAR said.

The Grand County Sheriff's dispatch had, in fact, received her request for help about eight minutes after she got the message saying it had failed to send. The message the dispatcher received did not include details on her situation, only her GPS coordinates at the time the message was sent.

It's unclear why the woman received a message to her iPhone that said her request for help was not sent. Apple did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Search and rescue sent hikers into the canyon to look for the woman and dispatched a helicopter. The woman, having tried to hike herself out, was not at the GPS coordinates when the rescuers arrived. The helicopter flew down the canyon to search for her and eventually spotted her about two miles downstream from the original coordinates.

Rescuers said the woman was "covered in mud from head to toe" when they found her, the statement said. One of the rescuers lent her a pair of shoes and they were all able to hike out of the canyon.

GCSAR said hikers should research their planned route and know the terrain they will encounter, as well as the local weather forecasts, adding, "Thunderstorms build quickly and can flood canyons from many miles away."

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