GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The mother of a Colorado woman reported missing while on a private river trip at the Grand Canyon said in January that she believed her daughter fell into the water and is dead.
In late March, those fears were realized.
According to a Facebook post from Linnea Kenney, her family was notified on March 21 that the body of her daughter, Kaitlin Kenney of Englewood, had been found.
“Thank you to our family and friends for the love and support these past months,” Linnea wrote. “She was a source of love, joy and friendship to so many. We are very grateful to the many professionals from the Grand Canyon National Park and the river rafting community for everything they did to find Kaitlin. Thanks to them for bringing her home to us.”
Kaitlin was last seen on Jan. 11 at her group’s camp near Tapeats Creek on the north side of the Colorado River. Despite an extensive search on land and along the river, park rangers struggled to find any sign of her and eventually scaled back search efforts.
Fliers with Kaitlin Kenney’s picture and description were posted where river trips launch and at takeout points.
The 21-year-old woman, who graduated from Cherry Creek High School and was studying anthropology and American Indian cultures at the University of Montana, was half-way into a month-long river trip at the Grand Canyon. Linnea says Kaitlin was the youngest of four children who made everyone laugh, excelled at fiddling and loved bluegrass music and the outdoors.
“Those (memories) are what keep you going, and knowing that she was doing what she loved doing,” Linnea Kenney said. “She lived life to the fullest.”
Kaitlin was with a group of experienced rafters and was on her first trip down the river. Linnea said no one saw her daughter get up in the middle of the night, but the next morning the group realized she was missing and called dispatchers at the Grand Canyon with a satellite phone to report it.
“They did a thorough investigation and talked to all the people to try to get any clues, and of course to make sure there was no foul play,” Linnea said. “No doubt in my mind there was no foul play. She was happy and laughing, and that’s kind of how everyone remembers her little soul.”
The last items Linnea received from her daughter were postcards from the Grand Canyon telling her that she was having a great time and that she felt safe, “and that it was the best thing she had ever done,” Linnea said.