I'm not a morbid guy.

I don't relish the thought of death or dying and I have no stomach for the macabre or gory.

That said, I do enjoy (like many of you) the study of human nature and the reason we do the things we do, act the way we act and say the things we say. I am curious about life and even death.

I'm also a fan of the Grand Canyon. I've been there dozens of times, even hiked rim to rim once, and feel blessed to have the "World's Biggest Hole in the Ground" right in our own backyard.

So when I came across a website recently that stated that more than 900 people have died in or around the Grand Canyon (of non-natural causes), I felt compelled to investigate.

Not only did the site make the claim, but it had the story of virtually every death.

"Over 900 deaths (of non-natural causes) have occurred in Grand Canyon since the first river exploration by John Wesley Powell and his crew in 1869 including suicides, aircraft collisions, drive-offs, snake bites and tourists falling off the rim today. Explore this map to discover the trials, tribulations, incidents, and often heartrending stories of how these souls perished in one of the most beautiful and iconic, yet hostile environments on Earth."

The website's map was created by Kenneth Field (@kennethfield). Originally based on the book by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers (Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon published in 2012), and updated using National Park Service data, this map shows all known recorded deaths up to the end of 2018 using pictogram symbols to characterize the circumstances of death.

The site provides the interactive map here.

You can also Download a print version of this map! and get ready to view in stunning 3D as a giant poster....or just admire the amount of red used to print it!

Some of the things I learned

  • The biggest single death event was when two planes carrying 128 people crashed mid-air above the Grand Canyon, killing all aboard. All totaled, 379 people have died in airplane and helicopter crashes in the Grand Canyon.
  • There have been 91 deaths ruled suicide in the Grand Canyon. Thirteen of those drove vehicle over the edge, including three in one year (1993).
  • One person jumped out of a helicopter while on a tour of the canyon, to the shock of the others on the helicopter.
  • 124 of the deaths were ruled as "environmental deaths," meaning the victims succumbed to heat, over-exertion, freezing or flash floods (as well as drinking too much water and lightning strikes).
  • Surprisingly, there have been 39 murders in the Grand Canyon.
  • In case you're wondering, no one has ever died on one of those scary mule rides down the canyon, although one rider was killed when a mule got spooked, tripped and landed on the individual.
  • Only 180 of the 900-plus deaths are from accidental falls.

Again, check out the book Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon, by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers.

Another great resource on deaths in the Grand Canyon was written and posted by Matt and Cheryl.

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