Death at Golden Gate

On June 22, 2017 approximately 6:20 pm, the United States Park Police to include the National Park Service Ocean Rescue and San Francisco Fire Department responded to a person who fell from a cliff near the Lands End Painted Rock area.

United States Park Police Officers upon arrival began searching the Painted Rock cliff area and located an individual lying on a rock that was approximately six feet from the water’s edge. Officers tried to communicate with the individual however the body was not moving and unresponsive.

National Park Service Ocean Rescue responded on a rescue water craft and located the individual. The injured person had extensive trauma to her head and body. Lifesaving efforts began as the individual was taken to China Beach at which time she was transferred over to a San Francisco Fire Department Medical Unit. The individual had succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead by the San Francisco Fire Department.

Preliminary investigation into this matter by the United States Park Police Criminal Investigations Unit reveals the juvenile decedent and two other juveniles had parked a vehicle along El Camino Del Mar. All three juveniles walked down to a fence that has a sign indicating “Danger Area Closed.” All three juveniles disregarded this sign and made their way through this fence and walked to the Painted Rock cliffs edge. United States Park Police Detectives confirmed with two of the juveniles that they knew the area was closed to the public but did so anyway. At some point, one of the juveniles fell approximately 150 to 200 feet and landed on a large rock.
[NPS Story]


One problem with signs is that there are so many of them warning about things that actually aren’t a problem, that when there is a sign for a true problem, you don’t take it seriously.

Busy Saturday at Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday, June 24, was a busy day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Good news is that there were no fatalities.

a 15-year-old female fell in the St. Vrain River in the Wild Basin area. She tumbled downstream approximately 50 yards over an eight foot waterfall and through significant rapids. Bystanders and family members were able to rescue the girl prior to rangers arriving. She received leg injuries and was carried out via a wheeled litter to the Wild Basin Trailhead where she was taken by ambulance to the Estes Park Medical Center.

Park rangers also assisted an injured 24-year-old male boulderer in the Chaos Canyon area who injured his leg after a fall

a 27-year-old female hiker on the Gem Lake Trail with a knee injury

a 26-year-old male hiker who had a seizure after taking a small fall at Emerald Lake. At 2:30 p.m. park rangers were notified of the incident above Alluvial Fan.

an 18-year-old from Kansas had been rock hopping on the Roaring River when he became stuck on the west side of the river. Park rangers were notified at 2:30 p.m. The young man’s family members were on the east side of the river. Rangers assessed the situation with members of Estes Valley Fire Protection District – Dive and Swiftwater Rescue Team, and after considering the complexity and length of time the rescue would likely take, it was determined that it would be safest to conduct the rescue in the morning. Rangers provided the man with warm clothes, a sleeping bag and food overnight. A ranger stayed overnight on the other side of the river from the young man.

At 5:30 a.m. this morning rescuers gathered and at 7 a.m. the highline operation began. The young man was rescued at approximately 10:20 a.m. Over 20 people were involved in the operation and Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue team greatly appreciates the assistance from Estes Valley Fire Protection District – Dive and Swiftwater Rescue Team.

The NPS story has a large picture of the highline rescue. Impressive stuff! Nice work. Next time you go rock hopping, pay attention to where you’re going and your plan for getting back!

Father and Son Found Dead Near Carlsbad Caverns

Authorities say a Texas man and his son reported missing on a hike in the area of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park have been found dead.

New Mexico State Police say the search for 57-year-old of Robert Stuart Pluta and his 21-year-old son Robert Jr. began Monday.

Both men were avid and experienced hikers from Corpus Christi.

State Police were notified Monday afternoon after Pluta’s wife says she had been unable to contact her husband or son for days.

Park Service staff located the men’s vehicle on a trailhead northwest of Carlsbad Caverns.

State Police say one dead body was found about 10 p.m. Monday about two miles northwest of the caverns and the other body was located a mile away Tuesday morning.
[Local News Story]


Successful Mountain Rescue in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a rescue for a snow climber who fell after slipping and falling on snow Monday afternoon. Robert Henderson, 68, of Wilson, WY was descending the Southeast Ridge of Disappointment Peak when he fell. Rangers responded quickly to the scene and transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, WY.

The southeast ridge of Disappointment Peak

Henderson’s fall, which took place just before 1:30 p.m., was witnessed from below by two hikers in the Amphitheater Lake area. Those hikers were the first to call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center and report the accident. Shortly thereafter, Henderson’s climbing partner, Dan Matzke of Moose, WY, called the dispatch center and reported that Henderson had lost his footing and slid on the snow before disappearing from view. Henderson’s fall carried him a total of 400 feet downhill, including a 60-80 foot cliff, to a location amongst snow and trees approximately 300 feet above Amphitheater Lake.

A ranger who was climbing on Disappointment Peak met up with Matzke, assisted him on the technical descent to Amphitheater Lake, and reached Henderson’s location at about 3:00 pm. The ranger assessed Henderson, who was alert but had suffered leg and shoulder injuries. Matzke continued downhill with a bystander.

At 4:20 p.m., the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter inserted two rangers to Henderson’s location via short-haul. The rangers loaded Henderson into a rescue litter and prepared him for extraction by short-haul. One ranger attended Henderson during the short flight out to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 5:11 p.m. He was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s. The helicopter returned to retrieve the remaining two rangers.

Though Henderson and Matzke were planning to climb on snow and had all the necessary gear to do so, park rangers recognize that many visitors to the Tetons may not be expecting wintertime conditions in June. Rangers advise that elevations above 9,000 feet are mostly still snow-covered, and appropriate knowledge and experience using an ice ax and crampons is necessary for traversing steep terrain.
[Local News Story]

Hiker Dies in Big Bend National Park

On the afternoon of June 18th, a 46-year-old woman was found deceased within Big Bend National Park.

Mid-morning on the 18th, the couple started hiking the Dog Canyon Trail. Nearing noon, both individuals started exhibiting signs of heat distress and dehydration. The woman’s hiking partner was able to hike back to the trailhead and notify the park of the situation around 2:30 pm. An interagency response included Park Rangers and Border Patrol Agents. The remains were located around 4:20 pm. While heat stress is a likely factor, a cause of death is yet to be determined.
[NPS Story]

The woman, whose identity has not been released, is the first person to die in the park this year. Last year, four people died in Big Bend: one fell of a cliff, another had an allergic reaction, and two more had heart attacks, Jurado said.
[Local News Story]

3 Earthquakes Near Yellowstone

Three more earthquakes shook an area near Yellowstone National Park early Friday morning.

The three early morning aftershocks came after an initial 4.5-magnitude quake occurred at 6:48 p.m. Thursday. It happened about 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone. Nine earthquakes followed.

At 2:02 Friday, a 2.8-magnitude earthquake hit the same area. It was followed by a 2.7-magnitude quake at 6:40 a.m. and another one at 7:17 a.m.

The West Yellowstone Police Department says the initial earthquake was felt in the town that borders the park, but there were no reports of damage.

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations said the quake was part of “an energetic sequence” of about 30 earthquakes in the area that began on Monday. Thursday’s quake was the largest to occur in Yellowstone since a 4.8-magnitude quake in March 2014.

Earthquakes occur frequently in and around Yellowstone.

In 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake near Yellowstone in Montana killed 28 people.
[Local News Story]

Climber from Nepal Dies Descending Denali

An NPS ranger patrol responded to a request for help at 17,500 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route at approximately 1 am on June 16. An independent party of three had been descending from Denali Pass when one of the teammates collapsed due to unknown illness. By the time the initial team of two NPS mountaineering volunteers reached the scene, the climber was unresponsive. Despite emergency medical interventions, the patient never regained consciousness and was pronounced deceased.
[NPS Report]

UPDATE; June 18
The mountaineer who died at 17,500 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route on June 16 is identified as Sanjay Pandit, age 28, of Kathmandu, Nepal. Pandit was descending the mountain with two teammates when he succumbed to an unknown medical illness.

The climber’s remains will be recovered from the 17,200-foot high camp when the cloudy and windy weather conditions improve.
[NPS Report]