A 56-year-old hiker fell 500 feet to his death during a Memorial Day trek in California’s Sequoia National Park, according to authorities — marking at least the third death of its kind over the holiday weekend.
The San Jose man, whose identity has not been made public, was on the summit ridge of the park’s Mount Russell when he lost his balance, the National Park Service said in a press release.
One of the man’s two hiking partners, a 45-year-old woman from Milpitas, Calif., grabbed hold of him, but couldn’t stop his momentum and fell with him, authorities said.
But while her tumble stopped at 30 feet, her partner plummeted 500 feet, according to the NPS.
Atop the ridge, the third member of the hiking party activated an emergency satellite beacon, then used his cell phone to call 911, the agency said.
A search-and-rescue team determined that the fallen male hiker was dead upon their arrival.
His body was recovered and transported to a funeral home, the NPS said.
The team also rescued the female hiker, who was initially taken to a hospital in Bishop, Calif., before being transferred to another facility in Reno, Nev., where she underwent surgery.
Noting that Sequoia and adjacent Kings Canyon National Park saw a combined eight search-and-rescue incidents over the three-day holiday weekend, the NPS urged caution in a statement.
“Over the course of what is expected to be an extraordinarily busy summer in the parks, visitors to the front country and the wilderness alike are strongly urged to prepare carefully for trips, and understand completely that you may need to be self-sufficient in the event of an emergency,” the advisory read. “There is never any guarantee that rescuers will be able to reach you quickly. Understand your own limits, take care of the people in your party, and always be prepared to turn back.”
The fatal fall was at least the third deadly hiking mishap recorded over the holiday weekend.
On Sunday, a 63-year-old man fell 500 feet to his death while climbing Oregon’s Mount Hood with his son.
And on Monday, an experienced 29-year-old mountaineer was found dead from an apparent fall on the Dallas-Gilpin ridge near Telluride, Colo. after embarking on a solo trek the day before.