On Sunday, February 26, 2012, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a report that a female hiker had fallen in Owl Eyes Canyon. Owl Eyes Canyon is located on the south side of the Colorado River, across from the Tapeats Creek and Deer Creek areas; approximately 30 miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim.
The park’s helicopter was dispatched to the area and discovered a body below a cliff in the Supai rock layer. Rangers then responded to the scene via helicopter where they began their investigations and prepared the body for transport.
The body was lifted to a landing zone in the area via short-haul (suspended by a rope below the helicopter), then moved into the helicopter for transport to the South Rim where it was transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
The woman has been identified as 24-year-old Ioana Elise Hociota of Tempe, Arizona.
According to Hociota’s husband, while she and her hiking partner were not using an established trail, they had hiked in the area several times before, had acquired a backcountry permit from the NPS, and were carrying a satellite phone. When they missed a regular check in on Saturday evening, he was alerted that there might be a problem. On Sunday, he traveled to their designated pick-up point where he met her hiking partner, learned of the fall and immediately notified the National Park Service (NPS).
Initial investigations indicate that the 300-foot fall was accidental. The investigation is being conducted by the NPS with the assistance of the Coconino County Medical Examiner.