The two sisters were swept away while hiking Utah's Little Wildhorse Canyon on Monday

By Rachel DeSantis
Updated May 13, 2020 03:03 PM
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Kinzley and Ellie Graff
| Credit: GoFundMe

The body of a missing 3-year-old girl who was swept away alongside her older sister in a Utah flash flood has been found, authorities said.

In what the Emery County Sheriff’s Office called “a very sad ending” to its search, the young girl was found Tuesday via helicopter on the bank of the wash about 28 miles downstream from where she was last seen in Little Wildhorse Canyon.

Authorities did not name the girls, but a GoFundMe page organized in support of the family identified them as Kinzley Graff and her younger sister Ellie.

The tragic end wrapped a day-long search involving approximately 80 people on foot, motorcycle and air, authorities said.

“ECSO expresses thanks to all agencies who worked tirelessly to locate the missing girl,” the sheriff’s office said. “Our heartfelt condolences are with the family at this very difficult time.”

Officials previously confirmed that the child’s 7-year-old sister was also killed in the floods after both girls were swept away while visiting the popular hiking spot on Monday.

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Twenty-one others survived the incident, which occurred after an isolated thunderstorm crossed the San Rafael Swell, causing flash flooding and hail the size of nickels in area slot canyons.

"Words cannot describe the heartbreak of what has happened and the support from family, friends and those who just want to be able to send prayers, love and thoughts to honor [Tim and Becky Graff's] beautiful daughters is truly needed," the GoFundMe page said.

The page also highlighted the family's close bond, writing that Tim and Becky loved taking their daughters on outdoor adventures, and that Tim was a "perfect 'girl' dad" who let Kinzley and Ellie paint his nails, put bows in his hair and do his make-up.

Tim, Kinzley, Ellie and Becky Graff
| Credit: GoFundMe

The Deseret News reported that the family was on a camping trip in celebration of Mother’s Day weekend.

The 7-year-old’s body was reportedly found by her father, who unsuccessfully attempted CPR, while the girls’ mother was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk told the outlet that the girls were about three miles into the canyon with their mother and an uncle when the storm hit, and that they were swept another two to three miles.

“It would be like putting them through a washing machine,” he said of the storm.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a statement following the incident, thanking those who helped look for the girls.

“[Utah's First Lady] Jeannette [Herbert] and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family who lost their two daughters in yesterday’s flash flood,” he said. “Utah mourns with the family and prays that they may be comforted in this heartbreaking time. We appreciate the efforts of all who assisted in the search.”

Little Wildhorse Canyon is a popular family hiking spot located in south-central Utah near Goblin Valley, according to Utah.com.

The hike itself is an eight-mile loop, described by the site as "moderately strenuous," with its main attraction being a "long stretch of 'narrows' where the canyon walls are so close you have to turn sideways to get through."

Though it's a common spot for families, hikers are warned that flash floods pose a significantly dangerous threat in the narrow canyons.

"These canyons are normally dry, although they may harbor pools of water during the spring and immediately after summer storms. If there are pools, hikers just wade through them — the water is usually only ankle-deep," Utah.com reads. "Never enter a slot canyon if there is a significant chance of rain anywhere in the canyon's drainage area."