Editorial: Tragedy is a reminder of the precautions we must take in the outdoors
The heartbreaking news came on Tuesday evening.
Earlier that day, authorities had found the body of 66-year-old South Jordan resident Ray Humpherys, who had gone missing from his family’s campsite near Hidden Lake in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest six days earlier. Summit County officials said he was discovered in a densely wooded area and that his injuries were consistent with the rough terrain, though an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
Authorities were uncertain why Humpherys, described by his family as an avid outdoorsman, didn’t return to the campsite after heading for the nearby lake to retrieve water to douse a campfire on the evening of July 18. They didn’t know how he ultimately ended up where he was found, about a mile and a half away.
But the tragedy, which occurred nearly a year after another man became lost in the Uintas, is a reminder of the danger that exists when recreating outdoors.
Our mountains are a majestic place. There’s a reason thousands of people make the trek through Kamas to the wilderness of the Uintas in search of peacefulness and fresh air. The stillness is invigorating. It beckons us back year after year.
But, nature can also be unforgiving, filled with situations that are hazardous even to experienced adventurers.
The dangers are not to be taken lightly. Anyone who ventures out should take every precaution for an emergency. According to experts, that includes carrying extra food and water, utilizing the buddy system and equipping the proper gear, like a physical map of the area. It’s also important for people to ensure others are aware of their plans and are prepared to seek help if they don’t return by a pre-planned time.
The unfortunate truth is that stories of people who find themselves in danger in the outdoors are far from rare. Those of us who hear them should take them to heart and make safety our No. 1 priority. Maybe, for someone, the reminder will make all the difference.
When people do find themselves in precarious situations, however, they should be grateful for being able to count on search and rescue crews to respond. Though the search for Humpherys ended tragically, the efforts of the people who tirelessly looked for him — from members of Summit County Search and Rescue and the Utah Department of Public Safety to volunteers with the Garrett Bardsley Foundation — should not be lost in the story.
We hope, though, that by doing all we can to recreate safely, they won’t be needed again for a long time.