2 Tampa men dead after flood near Arizona-Utah border

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has identified the two victims
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WWSB Generic Stock 15(WWSB-ABC7)
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 12:33 PM EDT
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP/WWSB) — Two men were found dead after floodwaters poured into a slot canyon near the Utah-Arizona border.

Multiple hikers had to be airlifted from the area. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that two of the hikers killed are from Tampa Florida.

According to a press release from the the sheriff, the first individual found dead was Bill Romaniello. He got swept away. Two others, Ed Smith and Dr. Jeffrey Watson were also missing. Watson had suffered an injury and couldn’t continue the trek to get help.

Smith told authorities he made Watson comfortable before continuing for help. Watson was eventually rescue and treated for exposure.

Heavy rains swept parts of the western United States last weekend raised the water level in the canyons before additional floodwaters spilled into the slot canyons early this week.

Two Utah Department of Public Safety helicopters and another hiker helped locate the second body found on Wednesday. After being called for the initial group of three, the Department of Public Safety helicopters helped extract 11 other people Tuesday who were stuck in frigid floodwaters and had called for help.

The men worked for The Orthopedic Medical Group of Tampa Bay who released a statement.

“Orthopedic Medical Group of Tampa Bay family would like to thank the community for the prayers and perpetual hope of positivity over the last few days.

Tragedy has hit the practice, and it is with profound sadness that we share the loss of Dr. Jeffrey Watson and William Romaniello, ATC, two pillars of the practice that leave an incredible legacy and monumental void in the hearts of everyone that knew them.

We kindly ask everyone to be respectful of the privacy of their families and friends in the coming days.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.