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One of 3 swept away in Colorado found dead

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – Search crews on Friday found the body of one of three people who were swept away after they jumped into the Colorado River on a visit to the Grand Canyon.

Canyon officials are waiting to identify him until they can tell his family.

The search continued for the other two. Searchers used a helicopter, a dog and other efforts to try to find them.

Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Tri-City Baptist Church, said the men were part of a 30-member group that went on a planned three-day hiking trip on Wednesday that the church organizes each year.

Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge identified the three as 15-year-old Saif Savaya, and two brothers, 16-year-old Mark Merrill and 22-year-old Joey Merrill. None were wearing life vests.

The group was in the canyon bottom just upriver from the main park headquarters on the South Rim. The river is cold at this time of year, with water temperatures of about 50 degrees. Currents are swift in the area.

“All those factors work against them,” Oltrogge said.

Taylor said the rest of the group returned to Tempe and is praying for the missing to return home safely.

Joey Merrill is a student at the International Baptist College that the church runs in Tempe, Taylor said. His brother, Mark, lives in the eastern Arizona town of Sanders and went along for the trip.

Savaya is a member of the Phoenix Arabic Bible Church, Taylor said.

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