fatal, near fatal or close call incidents/accidents in camping, backpacking, climbing and mountaineering

This page is a collection of some of the true stories I use in my wilderness first aid class to illustrate how the wilderness is not dangerous, it’s the people who aren’t prepared, who don’t know what they are doing, or who take inordinate risks, that are the danger. (One major, but rare exception, could be unintentionally provoked attacks by, for example, moose, bison or elk. In most cases staying a proper distance away from animals prevents attacks.)

Backpacker magazine quoted a ranger on the subject of trip safety:

“The death certificate usually says ‘killed by a fall’ or ‘died of exposure’ or some such thing,” says Butch Farabee, superintendent of Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, and the National Park Service’s search and rescue expert. “But it should read ‘killed by stupidity.’ Most people just don’t get it.
The number one cause of injury and death is unpreparedness. You must always ask yourself, ‘What if?’ What if it rains for three days straight? Is my tent waterproof? What if I lose my compass? What if the rescue party doesn’t find me?”

The climbing rangers in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park agree. They’ve found that less than 1 percent of backcountry accidents are due to natural causes, like falling rocks, avalanches, and animal attacks. The rest are due to ‘pilot error.’ In other words, people don’t die from unexpected snowstorms; they die from not expecting and preparing for unexpected snowstorms.

Grand Canyon photo Don't end up here: photo of victim, rescuers and the note: Don't end up here




Cost of a rescue? Many rescues are simple and fast, such as a child who wanders a small distance away from a family campsite. But prolonged rescues are expensive, especially in more rugged and remote parks. Denali in Alaska had three costing $118,000 $127,000, and $132,000. One rescue attempt of two backcountry skiers who died in an avalanche in Grand Teton in 2011 cost $115,000, twice the cost of any previous search and rescue in that park.




As shown in the book Death, Daring and Disaster, Search and Rescue in the National Parks, a sign on a trail to the edge of cliffs above Yosemite Valley at Glacier Point, 1924:


It is 3,000 feet to the Bottom

And no undertaker to meet you


There is a difference

Between bravery and Just plain



people climbing on rocks at the edge of a cliff just past a sign with large letters that says Do Not Enter



This bride and groom ignored the warning sign at Glacier Point.
When he miss-stepped and slipped a little, the group with them, and on-lookers, gasped.
But no one had heard anyone discouraging them from going out past the warning sign.

bride and groom at edge of cliff




This man is not only risking serious injuries if he falls into the near-boiling point water at this Yellowstone geyser, he is also a role-model for any kids watching who think they can do what he is doing:

man standing on the narrow boards at the top of a railing

And these are also role models,

man and woman on the wrong side of a metal fence with water rushing by them

man on the wrong side of a railing, with waterfall rushing very near him

For perspective, the two photos above were taken where they climbed over the railing at the top right hand side of this photo of the Vernal Fall (Yosemite):

top of Vernal fall overlook

row of rocks carved into brick shapes
Yosemite Search and Rescue, lessons from the field:

“If I had been wearing my helmet, I would have been fine.”

“The subject” (who slipped/fell on very fine gravel on a trail and needed evacuation) “was wearing tennis shoes with slick bottom soles.”

“Keep in mind that cell phones that work fine at home, may not work in the park. If yours works and you need emergency help, it is imperative that you call 911 instead of texting” (a relative/friend to get help) “because text messages can be lined up in a queue and sent out belatedly.” cell phones in the wilderness

“I also was not aware of the baking effect of the sun as it radiates off the granite, even in early afternoon, turning the trail into a virtual rotisserie at some points.”



American Whitewater http://www.americanwhitewater.org

keeps records of accidents including quotes such as

“there were lifejackets in the boat but neither man was wearing one

…my only injury was a T12 compression fracture

…inner tube overturned, he was tipped over for more than 10 minutes.”




An excellent source is the series Accidents in North American Mountaineering, “an annual compendium of accident reports from climbing accidents in the United States and Canada. Through analyzing what went wrong in each situation, ANAM gives experienced and beginning mountaineers the opportunity to learn from other climbers’ mistakes. From inadequate protection, clothing, or equipment to inexperience, errors in judgment, and exceeding abilities, the mistakes recorded in this book are invaluable safety lessons for all climbers.”

info at: http://www.americanalpineclub.org

examples from Accidents in North American Mountaineering:

“Belay saved my life, as did my helmet, because I hit my head enough to cause unconsciousness.”

“The inability to correct the problem was also the result of rappelling at night without headlamps.”

” They did not have any ropes, ice axes, gloves, or rain gear. Both men were clothed in all cotton, and had strap-on crampons which they wore over cloth boots.”

“There is no good reason for glissading with sharp spikes on our feet.”

“Cellular phones cannot take the place of good judgment.”

“The couple started to climb late in the day and had no extra layers or water with them. . . They owned a guidebook but had chosen to leave it in camp.”


The American Alpine Club has a webpage of El Capitan Accident History, 1973–2013

A spreadsheet of all accidents on the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite resulting in multiple broken bones, hypothermia, severed thumbs and even deaths, can be found at:


it includes links to the details of causes of each accident.




Below: National Park service photos of a helicopter short haul rescue of an injured climber in Grand Teton Park, June 2006.

NPS photo of shorthaul helicopter rescue Grand Tetons June 2006: close up NPS photo of short haul rescue: NPS photo of short haul helicopter rescue:

The most recent costs of a helicopter rescue we’ve heard of were $11,000 to $33,000.

see also: You can’t always expect a helicopter rescue

Below: a rescue off Half Dome in 2007:

NPS photo Half Dome rescue:

And your phone request for help might not get you the “rescue” you want:

From: Teton County Search And Rescue (TCSAR), Jackson Hole, Wyoming

“Tired Hikers in Alaska Basin

DATE 7/5/22

TIME 6:11 p.m.

DURATION 10 hours, 11 minutes

ATTENDEES 5 TCSAR team members


WHAT HAPPENED? Two 20-year-old companions called dispatch from Sunrise Lake in Alaska Basin to request support. The female and male reported being too exhausted to continue their hike back to the trailhead. The TCSAR Board of Advisors recommended they set up camp and rest for the night and continue in the morning. On the next day, they called dispatch again to say they were sore and couldn’t carry their packs and wanted someone to come in and carry their gear out for them. The TCSAR Board of Advisors decided to monitor the pair’s progress, and eventually, the hikers made it out of the backcountry on their own.”

thin line of gray colors made from a clouds photo

There is fascinating reading on how Yosemite climbers can avoid injuries/stay alive, by YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) Ranger John Dill, (including sections on environmental dangers, descents, big wall bivouacs, unplanned bivouacs, loose rock, climbing unroped, leading, falling, learning to lead, the belay chain, helmets, states of mind, rescues, and risks, responsibility and the limits of climbing), at
climbing advice.

and read about climbing regulations, the reasons behind them and practical advice on how to follow the rules, including fixed ropes, permits and sleeping on big walls, food storage, trash and human waste while climbing, bouldering, slacklining, and bolting ethics at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/climbing_regulations.htm

thin line of gray colors made from a clouds photo


sign that asks Is a photo worth dying for?




see also: Cell phones in the wilderness which has advice
on how/when to use a cell phone to contact 911 in the wilderness
and a warning about interference between cell phones, iPods and avalanche beacons.

Why you should wear a lifejacket.

GPS is not infallible

Thunderstorm and lightning safety includes a warning about not using your cell phone or IPod during a storm.

At altitude you will probably feel out of breath at first and may even get a headache and lose appetite. You can get more sunburned. Your tent mate might seem to stop breathing.

Safe distances from wildlife includes reasons to stay away from even friendly seeming animals in parks and charts and photos to better be able to determine and visualize how far away from wildlife you need to stay to be safe (and obey laws that do have penalties).

From a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Wilderness case study:
“cold, damp socks is not a sign of toughness, rather, it’s a bad habit.”
Serious cold injuries to toes/feet can surprise “people who thought their feet were just a bit cold.” Required gear for De Anza College Outdoor Club camping trips, with lots of advice on gear selection.

park ranger talks to driver
Top reasons not to speed in a National Park has defensive driving advice

The use of cell phones for photography (with or without a selfie stick) has made preventable injury
or even death by selfie common
They were just taking a selfie . . .

your safety in grizzly bear territory

Safe distances from wildlife includes reasons to stay away from even friendly seeming animals in parks and charts and photos to better be able to determine and visualize how far away from wildlife you need to stay to be safe (and obey laws that do have penalties).

girls sits very near an elk

rocks packed together
Most of the following are from the National Park Service Daily Report.

I’ve sorted the stories into these groups:

DROWNING / WATERFALLS / SLIPPED, FELL (which includes slips on Half Dome and slips while trying to take a selfie)



UNPREPARED HIKERS (and unprepared climbers)



sign wildlife on road slow down: sign all park animals are wild: sign view from this distance:

sign wildlife crossing: sign means go slow: sign that bill moose: sign is some cows beau: sign slow down:








notice area closed

IGNORE THE WARNING SIGNS, FENCES and BARRIERS, including Yellowstone thermal burns

(many visitors who drown or are swept over waterfalls do so because they ignore warning signs and barriers, see DROWNING / WATERFALLS / SLIPPED, FELL )


THEY DIDN’T STAY ON MAINTAINED TRAILS (see also the drowning / waterfalls /slipped, fell for some people who didn’t stay on trail)








(including variations on HUG A TREE: when you realize you are lost … stay put so you can be found more easily)







NPS poster we weren't swimming, we were only wading

The poster above is from the advice page: http://www.friendsofyosar.org/#!water/voa96


one slip in shallow water in Yosemite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKLPcpw7r08&noredirect=1



Date: October 15, 2018

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted an early evening short-haul rescue at Hidden Falls on the west side of Jenny Lake on Saturday, October 13. Teton Interagency Dispatch received a call at approximately 4:45 p.m. on Saturday from a bystander indicating someone had fallen and needed help at Hidden Falls. A second call from another bystander was received and additional information was communicated that the injured visitor was in the water, shivering significantly and possibly hypothermic and unable to move due to injuries.

Due to time of day and decreasing daylight, weather conditions, and information about the situation, Grand Teton National Park Rangers responded to the incident via helicopter and prepared for a short-haul evacuation.

Will Levis, 25 years of age from Rexburg, Idaho, was rescued via short-haul and transported via park ambulance to St. Johns Medical Center in Jackson. Levis and another individual were climbing the Hidden Falls water falls above the viewing area. They were scrambling across wet rocks when Levis slipped and fell approximately 20-30 feet in Cascade Creek. The temperature at the time of the accident was 35 degrees and the water temperature was estimated at approximately 40 degrees.

All visitors and recreationists are reminded that park rescue operations may be limited by reduced staff, severe weather, and limited helicopter use this time of year. Please consider the recreational experience and be prepared for self-rescue, as well as have the appropriate skills and equipment for each respective activity.


Teen falls to his death in Yosemite National Park after trying to take a selfie

By Bryant-Jon Anteola, Fresno Bee

September 05, 2018 09:13 PM
Updated September 06, 2018 11:58 AM

A teenager who was visiting from Israel died Wednesday in Yosemite National Park while reportedly trying to take a selfie.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry identified the teen as 18-year-old Tomer Frankfurter, and local sources confirmed the death.

Frankfurter apparently lost his balance while trying to take a photo of himself at the edge of Nevada Fall before falling 820 feet to his death, the teen’s mother told The Times of Israel.


Yosemite hiker falls to his death from Half Dome cables, national park says

By Lewis Griswold, Fresno Bee

May 22, 2018 03:06 PM

A hiker who fell in Yosemite National Park while using the Half Dome cables has died, the park said Tuesday.
The male hiker fell from the cables about 4:30 p.m. Monday while hiking during a thunderstorm with another person, according to the park.
Rangers received a report that a hiker had slipped and fell off the cables. When rangers arrived, they helped the second hiker but the first hiker did not survive. His body was recovered about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
This is the first fatality on the Half Dome cables since 2011, and the first visitor fatality in the park this year, the park said.
The identity of the hiker will be released after his family is notified. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

and an opinion piece from the same newspaper:

Hiking Half Dome is always a challenge. Making a hard choice could save your life

By Marek Warszawski, Fresno Bee

May 24, 2018 04:18 PM
Updated May 25, 2018 11:37 AM

The most important piece of information anyone can possess about hiking Half Dome is knowing when to turn back.
Making that tough choice could save your life. Particularly on the 400-foot cables section that connects to the summit of the iconic Yosemite Valley monolith.

Wet conditions that exacerbate the slipperiness of smooth granite, polished thousands of years ago by glaciers and today by the shoe soles worn by thousands of hikers ascending and descending the cables each year, are a factor in many of Half Dome’s accidents and fatalities.

Inclement weather appears to have played a role in the death of 29-year-old Ashish Penugonda of New Jersey, who slipped and fell from the cables section Monday afternoon during thunderstorm activity. Penugonda was identified by the Mariposa County coroner.

Monday marked the eighth time someone has died from a fall on the Half Dome cables, which were originally erected in 1919. Four of the deceased were either climbing or descending during wet, slippery conditions. (Two of these deaths occurred during the offseason, typically from early October to mid to late May, when rangers remove the stanchions that hold the cables at waist level as well as the 2 x 4 planks laid across them that hikers use to brace their footing.)

Rising nearly 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley, Half Dome also behaves like a natural lightning rod during spring and summer thunderstorms, which are common in the Sierra Nevada. Lightning strikes have been the cause of three summit fatalities, one in 1972 and two more in 1985 (as chronicled in the book “Shattered Air”), as well as one death on the cables.

Whenever someone dies while hiking Half Dome – thankfully this is the first time that’s happened since 2011 – questions are raised about safety and what the park service could be doing to better protect and warn visitors.

I’m firmly entrenched on the personal responsibility side. Yosemite isn’t an amusement park, and park rangers aren’t babysitters. Everyone who visits is ultimately responsible for their own well-being.

For many people, standing atop the sprawling, 13-acre summit of Half Dome represents a lifetime achievement. But no tick on a bucket list is worth losing your life over. It’s up to every hiker to understand his or her own limits. Which is why knowing when to turn back is the most important decision you can make.

I’ve seen people make the arduous 7- to 8-mile hike from Happy Isles (depending on whether you take the Mist Trail or Muir Trail), reach the base of the cables and stop dead in their tracks at the imposing view. “Nope, this isn’t for me,” they say aloud or to themselves before deciding not to proceed.

Smart move.

I’ve also seen people arrive at the cables as storm clouds gather and decide to go up anyway, ignoring both the entreats of fellow hikers as well as the metal plaque the park service installed to warn of the dangers.

Sheer stupidity.

Since 2012, as a result of a visitor use study, permits have been required to hike Half Dome via the cables. Only 300 people per day are allowed. But whether this has increased or decreased visitor safety is a matter of debate.
While permits have alleviated the problem of overcrowding – it used to take up to an hour to ascend and descend the cables during peak-use times – the system has also created added pressure to complete the hike.

Because permits are difficult to obtain via preseason and daily lotteries, as well as being non-refundable and non-exchangeable, people don’t have the option of trying again on a day with better weather. Since another opportunity isn’t guaranteed, more people are willing to assume the risks of climbing during threatening or inclement weather.
Which, as we saw earlier this week, can be a tragic mistake.

Whenever people ask for my advice on how to successfully hike Half Dome, the first thing I tell them is to get a sunrise start. Although thunderstorms can occur at any time, they are much more frequent in the afternoon. That means the odds of being engulfed by bad weather are lower the earlier you arrive at the base of the cables. Try to get up there before noon, and don’t linger on the summit if you spot incoming clouds.

More sound advice: Wear shoes with grippy soles, bring plenty of water and a pair of gloves, be patient with fellow hikers who may be slower than you and don’t pass people by venturing outside the cables. (I don’t believe harnesses are necessary.) But when it comes down to it, good judgment is the best safety measure. Know when not to go.


Girl Survives After Swept Downriver in Sequoia National Park

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, CA –On Saturday, June 4, 2016, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Dispatch Office received a radio call at 4:16 p.m. from a park employee relaying a report from park visitors of someone in distress in the Kaweah River near Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park. A swiftwater rescue was initiated at that time. Upon arrival at Hospital Rock, rangers found the victim, a 17-year-old female from San Jose, CA. She had been swimming in the river at Hospital Rock when she was swept 500 feet downstream by strong currents through sections of rapids. She was clinging to a rock when two visitors pulled her to safety. One Parkmedic*and one EMT provided care to the patient. The girl complained of shortness-of-breath and pain where she had hit rocks in the river. The girl was transported by ambulance from Hospital Rock to a local hospital. A total of 10 park staff and a deputy sheriff from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office responded to the swiftwater rescue.

“The person involved in this incident was incredibly fortunate, as others have died in similar scenarios,” said Incident Commander Chris Waldschmidt. “Don’t let their beauty fool you … rivers can be deadly!” he added.

Drowning is the #1 cause of death at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Most drownings happen from May through August. Even when temps in the Central Valley are hot, river water is extremely cold, as it comes from melting snow in the mountains. Cold water quickly induces hypothermia–which dramatically reduces your ability to react in an emergency. Many drowning victims have fallen in accidentally on slippery rocks at the river’s edge or have been carried away by currents, which are especially strong in spring. Never swim or play by the river alone. Watch children carefully–drowning occurs without a sound. Stop by a park visitor center to inquire about river conditions before going in the water and heed the advice for your safety. More Info

* What is a Parkmedic? Parkmedics are park rangers with specialty medical training. Their training is similar to an Advanced EMT, but with an expanded pharmacological and procedural scope of practice. Parkmedics in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks provide EMS services under protocols written, reviewed and revised by Parkmedic residents at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, CA. Parkmedics call for medical direction from the field to the Community Regional Medical Center emergency department, where trained residents provide advice and consultation via radio.


Sept 5, 2015 Yosemite National Park

. . . the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a call from the Merced River near Arch Rock Entrance Station. The report indicated that a male subject in his 30s dove into a shallow pool of water and could not feel anything below his waist. Ambulances responded from Yosemite Valley and El Portal while rangers responded to the incident with swiftwater gear. As more information came in, rangers learned the subject was already out of the river but was showing signs of shock. The man was flown to a nearby trauma center where, despite the skill of many medical professionals, his injuries left him paralyzed.


June 17, 2015

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA)

Rescuers Respond To Two Incidents At Same Waterfall

Rangers and volunteer firefighters responded to incidents on consecutive days last week in which visitors were injured in cliff jumps from the Adams Creek waterfall.

Both victims were 20-year-old women from New Jersey and both received back injuries after jumping from a cliff about 40 feet above the pool at the base of the waterfall.

On June 10th, the park’s interagency high angle rescue team conducted a belayed carryout of the first injured woman; the June 11th incident did not require a technical rescue, as the woman was able to walk part of the way out to the trailhead.

These incidents marked the second and third injury incidents requiring rescues at Adams Creek this year. The creek has exploded in popularity among teenagers and young adults from as far away as Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the greater New York-New Jersey urban areas due to numerous YouTube posting of cliff jumping, swimming and partying there. . . An alcohol closure was put in place this year for the area, but that has not diminished its popularity. Park management is now considering an area closure.
[Submitted by Joe Hinkes, Law Enforcement Operations Supervisor]


Five Silver Apron Injuries on Same Day

July 25, 2014 written by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On Wednesday, July 16, at approximately 6 pm, three 17 year-old males arrived at the Yosemite Medical Clinic seeking medical attention for injuries to their legs, ankles, and feet. The subjects all sustained their injuries while sliding down the Silver Apron, a large, sloping granite area that the Merced River flows over, located in between Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, just east of Yosemite Valley, and which is a closed area. Moments later, two more 17-year-old males, unrelated to the previous group, walked into the clinic and, similarly, requested medical attention for lower extremity traumatic injuries caused by sliding down the Silver Apron.

Due to a language barrier, the exact details of how each of the five individuals hurt themselves are not known. One subject recounted entering the area and being surprised by how slippery the Silver Apron was, even where the granite was not wet. He further explained that when he started sliding down the Silver Apron, there was no way to slow down, let alone stop, before striking the pile of boulders and rocks at the base. The injuries sustained by the five subjects included lower leg and buttock abrasions, lower leg lacerations, and a sprained left ankle.

Every year at the Silver Apron, significant numbers of visitors are injured at the Silver Apron . . . Visitors either deliberately slide down the wet slope and then crash into the unavoidable pile of rocks at the entry to Emerald Pool, or, before they even have a chance to start sliding, they slip and fall on the slick granite. Often, hikers suffer more traumatic injuries than those sustained by the subjects mentioned above. There appears to be a correlation between a drop in the flow of the Merced River and an increase in the number of visitors injured at the Silver Apron. Visitors hiking along the Mist Trail are strongly advised to stay on the trail and away from the Merced River between the Happy Isles Trailhead and Little Yosemite Valley, especially when the river level drops. The smooth, polished granite of the river bed, whether wet or dry, is extremely slick, and the currents of the river remain deceptively powerful.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Visitor Survives Plunge Into Yosemite Falls

Around noon on Wednesday, May 28th, park dispatch received an emergency call from a group of backpackers who reported that one of their number had fallen into the Middle Cascade of Yosemite Falls.
The victim, a 22-year-old man from Union City, California, was on a backpacking trip with three of his friends. When they stopped on their return trip at the Middle Cascade at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall, he fell into the water while reaching for his sunglasses. He was swept several hundred feet through the 675-foot-high Middle Cascade into an eddy in a pool of water, where he was able to climb onto a large boulder in the middle of the cascade.

Immediately upon receiving the call, a Yosemite search and rescue team was dispatched to the location of the incident along the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail.  At the same time, the park’s contract helicopter was ordered out for a reconnaissance flight.

With members of the initial ground team acting as spotters from the edge of the gorge, the helicopter inserted Ranger Ed Visnovske via short haul to the man’s location. He was found to be slightly hypothermic, but otherwise uninjured.  Visnovske and the man were then short hauled to Yosemite Valley, where the man declined medical treatment.


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Visitor Swept Over Nevada Fall

A 19-year-old visitor from Sacramento was swept over the edge of Nevada Fall on Saturday afternoon. Aleh Kalman, who came to the park with a church group, was seen swimming about 150 feet above the fall when he was swept away by the current. Ground searchers and a California Highway Patrol helicopter were immediately dispatched to the area and began searching for him, but have so far been unsuccessful. The Merced River, which feeds the 594-foot-high waterfall, was flowing at approximately 500 cubic feet per second this past weekend – a very swift and powerful spring flow of water. The water temperature was in the low 50’s.  Water levels and temperatures are expected to remain relatively the same throughout the week. The Mist Trail, from the footbridge above Emerald Pool to the top of Nevada Fall, is temporarily closed so that ground teams can continue searching the area below the waterfall.   Three dog teams and approximately 20 personnel are searching the area for any signs of Kalman.
[Submitted by Public Affairs Office]


July 20, 2012 from http://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/Lessons-Learned-2012-Last-post-for-the-season.htm:

A litter carryout rescue on the Yosemite Falls trail: a male hiker “slipped on a step covered by decomposed granite (very fine gravel). While one leg slipped forward, the subject’s other leg slipped backward, forcing the subject to do the splits. The subject was wearing tennis shoes with slick bottom soles… While traveling downhill on steep sections of trail, slipping on gravel is common. Wearing trail shoes, hiking boots or footwear with sticky rubber soles can help hikers maintain traction on the park’s tails; some hikers also use trekking poles to help with balance and avoid slipping.”


A victim describes going off trail at Yosemite Falls, falling in to the river, and his reaction to the rescuers:

“My foot lost its traction on the wet, slimy rock as I fall on all fours. On my hands and knees I slowly slide down a long stretch of wet, algae-covered rock. My mind cannot even respond. My speed quickly increases. My body is sliding out of control towards the base of the upper falls. Before I even let out a scream, I plunge into the roaring rapids that are heading for the lower falls of Yosemite’s main attraction. My body now is part of the water, and I honestly couldn’t tell you how I was feeling. I was basically waiting for the unexpected. Submerged in the water for no longer than a few seconds, I am tossed onto a rock that was right in the middle of the waterfall…

I regretted not staying on the main trail as I tearfully watched these people risk their most precious gift for me. Their courageous efforts are the reasons why I am here right now. I cannot express enough of my heartfelt appreciation. Man has destroyed much of Mother Nature and has polluted Her sacred land. I feel that by going off the main trail, I too had invaded Mother Nature’s space. Maybe my accident was Her way of telling me to back off and respect Her territory. By staying on the main trail, we all can respect Her beauty and majesty without endangering our most precious gift – life.”

This victim was found guilty by a U.S. Magistrate for creating a hazardous condition. His sentence was to pay restitution and submit an article to the National Park Service summarizing his experience so that others might learn. You can read the whole statement at:

click on Victim’s Story.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Teenage Girl Swept Over Falls To Her Death

Late in the afternoon of Saturday, July 30th, park dispatch received a report that a young women had been swept over the 15-foot-high falls at the Sinks, a popular swimming area on the Little River about ten miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Rangers arrived shortly after the call was received. Witnesses told them that the teenager had been wading across the river just above the falls when she lost her footing and was swept over the edge. At the base of the falls, she became entrapped and was held underwater by the force of the water coming down from above. Several park visitors had formed a human chain at the base of the falls and were attempting to pull her free, but were unable to overcome the force of the water. Rangers and rescue personnel from several agencies (Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Blount County Fire Department, Townsend Volunteer Fire Department and Rural Metro Ambulance Service) worked for approximately three hours to recover the woman’s body. A technical haul system and advanced swiftwater techniques were used to free her. There are numerous signs posted at the Sinks warning visitors of strong currents and hidden underwater hazards and advising caution in and around the water.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Three Visitors Swept Over Vernal Fall

Group of Family and Friends on Day Trip to Yosemite

Three visitors are presumed dead after plunging over Vernal Fall on Tuesday afternoon. Hormiz David, 22, Ninos Yacoub, 27, and Ramina Badal, 21, all from California, came to the park for a day trip with a group of family and friends.  They were seen entering the water above Vernal Fall, approximately 25 feet from the precipice. Witnesses reported to park officials that several people urged them to step back from the river, since it was flowing swiftly and was extremely cold. The area is signed as a dangerous area, and the group had crossed a metal guardrail placed there to keep visitors away from the dangerous, fast-moving water. The park is still seeing the effects of a huge winter snowpack and a cool spring and summer. The Merced River, which feeds the 317-foot-high Vernal Fall, is still running at spring conditions with significant water levels, producing a swift, dangerous current. The hike up the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall is one of the most popular hikes in the park, with upwards of 1,500 people per day ascending the trail to the top of Vernal Fall. There have been six water-related deaths in the park this year, including this incident. Two hikers drowned in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on June 29th and a hiker slipped and fell into the Merced River on the Mist Trail on May 13th. The Mist Trail was closed after the incident to facilitate search and rescue operations, but has since reopened. Search efforts are continuing, consisting primarily of combing each side of the Merced River looking for the victims.
[Submitted by Kari Cobb, Public Affairs Specialist]


July 6, 2009.

Swift Water Rescue at Rocky Mountain National Park

This morning, a 54-year-old woman from Enid, Oklahoma, was posing for a photograph next to Glacier Creek along Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. She slipped and fell and was swept 15 to 20 yards downstream before she was able to pull herself up on a rock and hold on to a shrub. Her husband drove to Moraine Park Visitor Center to get help.

Rangers were on scene at 12:15. Rangers were able to use a rope to get a life jacket, helmet and additional clothing to the victim. Estes Park Dive Rescue and Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department along with Estes Park Ambulance assisted park rangers. Dive Rescue deployed an inflatable boat to reach the victim and assist her to dry land. She suffered from hypothermia and a broken wrist and was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. Bear Lake Road was closed, between Hollowell Park and Park and Ride, for almost an hour due to the incident.

Mountain streams can be dangerous, especially after all of the spring runoff and continued moisture in the park. Visitors are reminded to remain back from the banks of streams and rivers and provide proper supervision for children, who by nature, tend to be attracted to water. Rocks at streamside and in the stream are often slippery and water beneath them may be deep. Powerful currents can quickly pull a person underwater.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Rangers Rescue Man Who Fell Into Kaweah River

On Saturday, May 30th, a volunteer river rover radioed dispatch to report that a 23–year-old man had fallen into the Kaweah River near the Hospital Rock picnic area, which is inside Sequoia’s southwestern boundary. The victim had been standing on a rock above the Kaweah River, which was running high and fast due to spring runoff, when he slipped and fell. The current swept him to an underwater rock, where he was able to stand in cold, waist-deep water. Rangers coordinated a successful, multi-divisional swift-water rescue. A lifejacket and helmet were passed to the man. Because of the river’s topography, rangers determined that rescue swimmers could neither safely nor effectively reach him. Rescuers set up downstream containment with a downstream rescue swimmer, and a tethered rescue board was deployed with safety lines. The man quickly placed himself on the board in the fast current and was pulled to shore, evading dangerous hydraulics and undercut rocks. He was treated for mild hypothermia and released. Throughout the rescue operation, the river rover successfully prevented the victim’s family and other onlookers from entering the river to attempt a rescue, thereby thwarting the potential for a secondary incident. Sequoia’s river rover volunteers contact visitors at key access points on the park’s rivers to advise them of the risks and dangers of swift water. They also serve as park ambassadors, distributing a wide range of park information to river users and other visitors. The river rover program at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has been instrumental in reducing the number of injuries and deaths through early notification and activation of emergency services. [Submitted by Kevin Hendricks, Chief Ranger]


Hiker Falls to His Death, Forty-One Rescued from Half Dome Cables

June 13, 2009

Half Dome, Cables Route

On Saturday June 13th, hikers ascended the cables route of Half Dome in deteriorating weather conditions. Sleet, driving rain, and dramatically falling temperatures caused the steep rock slabs to become dangerously slick.

As hikers began their exodus from the summit, a 40 year old man of San Ramon, California, lost his footing during his descent and fell from the cables.

The fall proved to be horrifying to hikers who were nearby. Terrified, they clung to the cables – frozen with fear and unable to move. The mid-cable congestion created a barricade that stranded 41 people near the summit of Half Dome.

The Park Service began receiving 911 calls almost immediately, alerting them to a fall.
Through a window in the clouds, Rangers Keith Lober and David Pope were short-hauled onto the Sub-Dome where they rappelled to the fallen hiker and confirmed that he was deceased.

Following the confirmation, the operation rapidly switched efforts to focus on evacuating the cables. Many of the hikers were dangerously underprepared for the prevailing weather conditions.
Over the next hour the stalled hikers became incapacitated from the cold, as they were exposed to the fury of the storm high on the 8500’ face. The steel cables sucked the heat from their hands, leaving them virtually unable to grip.

Ranger Pope grabbed as much of the climbing gear as he could carry and ascended 300 feet up the cables to the first survivor. Systematically, impromptu harnesses were fashioned with webbing, securely anchoring each person to the cables.

Ranger Lober began instructing those that were physically able to descend to do so. Many of the stranded had beginning stages of hypothermia and were unable to use their hands to open the carabineers on their webbing harnesses in order to bypass the cable stanchions.

The Park’s helicopter made two more flights to the Sub-Dome to insert additional rescue personnel and medical supplies.

The rescue team secured everyone with harnesses and lowered several of the victims down the cableway to the security of the saddle, as they were unable to safely descend under their own power. It took more than two hours to guide the forty one persons back to the sub dome. The operation was completed by dusk on Saturday evening, but it wasn’t until 2:00 AM when all visitors involved would return to the trailhead. All of the evacuated persons were eventually able to walk out on their own.

While descending at the end of the operation, the rescue team was re-assigned to the Lost Lake Area to search for three ledged out hikers.

Submitted by Ranger K. Lober

Edited by Nate Knight


Monday, June 04, 2007

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Visitor Falls Into River And Drowns

On May 19th, Kiran Yellajyosula, 27, of Santa Clara and India,
went hiking on the Vernal-Nevada Falls Trail with a group of friends.
Yellajyosula left the trail and walked about 10 yards to the edge
of the Merced River, where he slipped and fell in.
Witnesses reported that they’d seen him in the river
below the Vernal Falls footbridge, but that he’d then disappeared.
Search efforts began in earnest when the park received a call
for assistance. Search dogs alerted along the river downstream
from the footbridge the following day. Although past its peak spring
runoff, the river continues to run at a significant volume,
and its velocity near the footbridge made it too hazardous
for SAR personnel to enter the water. On Tuesday, May 29th,
Yellajyosula’s body was spotted by a park ranger. The recovery,
which entailed the use of a high line,
took about three-and-a-half hours.
Mike Foster and Jack Hoeflich were incident commanders
during the initial search and later recovery efforts.
[Submitted by Charles Cuvelier, Deputy Chief Ranger]


Yosemite National Park News Release

August 24, 2005

Two Fatalities Result From Water-Related Accidents in Yosemite National Park

Two visitors in Yosemite National Park have died in the last week due to water-related accidents.

Rachael Neil, 22, of Mesa. Arizona was hiking with friends on the John Muir Trail above Nevada Fall. Neil slipped while jumping from rock to rock about ¼ mile above the waterfall and was pulled down stream and underwater by the swift current. Despite attempts by search and rescue personnel, deep holes and high water conditions in the Merced River have prevented her body from being recovered. Recovery attempts will resume when water levels in the Merced River recede.

Shane Kinsella, 21, from Dublin, Ireland, fell over the top of Upper Yosemite Fall on Monday afternoon, August 23, 2005. He was posing for a photograph near the lip of the waterfall when he slipped, was unable to recover, and fell over the 1430 foot waterfall. Kinsella’s body was recovered by Yosemite National Park rangers and rescue personnel in a pool at the bottom of Upper Yosemite Fall on Tuesday morning.

This is the fifth accidental death in Yosemite National Park this year.


Yosemite National Park News Release

August 1, 2005

24-Year-Old Hiker Dies After Falling Over Vernal Fall

A 24-year-old hiker died Saturday in Yosemite National Park after falling over Vernal Fall. Chintan Chokshi, a San Francisco area resident, crossed the safety barrier at the top of the Fall to cool off after hiking, lost his footing, and was witnessed being swept over the fall. Rangers were called to the scene at approximately 11:15 am. Searchers will continue to look for Chokshi’s body on foot and by helicopter through today.

Chokshi was hiking with friends on the popular Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park.

Signs at the bridge near Vernal Fall use strong language and international symbols to warn hikers of the dangers of entering the water in that area. High water levels, wet rocks, and strong currents make the area extremely dangerous. Swimming is not permitted in Emerald Pool or in river areas along the Mist Trail.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

“According to Ranger Adrianne Freeman, Chokshi went behind a barrier at the top of the falls to get near the river, apparently with the idea of cooling off in the icy river water. But he slipped and was swept away over the fall, which drops over a cliff 317 feet high.

The river was running swift and cold due to late runoff from a high snowpack in the Sierra. Authorities listed Chokshi as presumed dead.

Freeman said that bodies of persons swept over the falls are sometimes never recovered. The incident was the first fatal accident involving waterfalls or swift streams in Yosemite this year, though there have been several close calls, Freeman said.

“It was just a terrible accident,” she said.

In recent years, she said, three or four people have been swept over Vernal or nearby Nevada falls to their deaths.”


Below, a warning sign above Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park.

warning above Vernal Fall:

Galen Clark, guardian of Yosemite for 21 years, put up protective railings at both Vernal and Nevada Falls in 1892.

The first fatal accident recorded at Vernal Fall was August 22, 1924, a 16 year old girl wading with her father across the river just above the falls. In 1946 a boy 60 feet above the brink of the fall dropped his canteen and as he reached for it, slipped and fell in. Three sailors walking nearby leaped over the barrier railing and into the water. One got the boy and struggled to get him the shore but lost his grip on the slippery rocks and both were swept over the falls.


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Glacier National Park
Near Drowning After Fall into Avalanche Gorge

A woman employed by Lake McDonald Lodge fell into Avalanche Gorge on July 3rd. The park was alerted to the accident in the late afternoon. A companion told rangers that he’d witnessed her fall into the water and followed her downstream, where he found her face-down and unconscious. Other park visitors, including a physician’s assistant, were reported to have immediately begun rescue breathing and chest compressions. An A.L.E.R.T. helicopter responded and its flight nurse met rangers at the scene. The woman was stabilized, then transported by backboard via park vehicle to the helicopter at Red Rock Point. The helicopter took her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, where she fully recovered from her brush with death.
[Submitted by Melissa Wilson, Public Affairs Specialist]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Man Drowns in Middle Fork of Kaweah River

The body of Bryan Coker, 21, of Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, was recovered May 29th five miles downstream and outside the boundary of Sequoia National Park. He had been reported as missing the previous afternoon after swift currents swept him downstream of where he and his friends were jumping into the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River inside the park. Although the river current was strong, several of the party decided to enter the water. The missing man was pulled into the middle of the river and was unable to get to shore. His friends tried to pull him out, but were unable to reach him due to the strong current. He was last seen with his head out of the water being swept down the river. Investigating rangers say that the cold, swift water and the possible use of alcohol were contributing factors in his death.

Participating in the search were rangers, one helicopter from Yosemite Search and Rescue and another from Intermountain Helicopters on contract to the NPS, and personnel from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department dive team, Tulare County Search and Rescue and Sequoia Mountain Rescue. While this search was taking place, a second call came in on the evening of May 28th reporting that two young children were struggling on the side of the Kaweah River below Pumpkin Hollow Bridge near the entrance to the park. Dive team members and the Yosemite helicopter responded to that incident, which was quickly resolved. This is the first drowning in the two parks this year.
[Submitted by Alexandra Picavet, Public Affairs Specialist]


Yosemite National Park News Release

August 5, 2003

For Immediate Release

Young Man Drowns at Emerald Pool, Yosemite National Park
A young man drowned late yesterday, August 4, at Emerald Pool despite efforts by bystanders and rangers to resuscitate the man. Emerald Pool is at the top of Vernal Fall and accessed by the Mist Trail.

Melvin L. Paballa, 20, of Milpitas, CA, attempted to swim the segment of the river with friends, but went under at the bank. His friends pulled him out of the river and began CPR. Rangers received the initial report by cell phone, responded, and arrived on the scene in approximately 30 minutes. They continued CPR and advanced life saving efforts. Paballa was determined to be dead at the scene after one hour of resuscitation efforts.
Yosemite Search and Rescue responded with 30 personnel for this incident. Rangers had requested a CHP helicopter for quick evacuation. However, the helicopter was turned around after the fatality was called at the scene.


from the National Park Service Morning Report of Friday, June 13, 2003

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA)
Recovery of Drowning Victim

On Thursday, June 12th, rangers recovered the body of a 19-year-old man who drowned in Raymondskill Creek on the afternoon of June 5th. Frank Migliano of New City, New York, was swimming in the creek above a 40-foot waterfall with three friends, despite signs stating that the area is closed to swimming and a split-rail fence barrier between the trail to a viewpoint of the falls and the creek itself. He was caught in the current and swept over the falls. Rangers had been trying to recover his body for a week, but the volume of water coming over the falls, which remained high due to intermittent rain, stymied repeated efforts to reach him by kayakers and divers. On June 11th, rangers completed the complicated setup required for the next phase of the recovery effort, which would have entailed running a boat along a line at the base of the falls between two fixed anchor points and probing for Migliano’s body. That operation was about to get underway, when arriving rangers found that Migliano’s body had surfaced in the pool at the bottom of the falls sometime during the previous night. The family, which had been on scene for much of the week, was present when he was brought to shore. An autopsy will be conducted. The family released a statement to the media, part of which read as follows: “”The family [remained] in constant contact [through the week] with Ranger Ed Whitaker [IC] and Ranger Sue Zoccola [family liaison], who provided updated information and an amazing sense of compassion and determination to returning the body of a young man to his family, whom they never had the privilege of meeting. The family would like to thank all the friends and family who have shown love and support during this tragedy. Furthermore, they would like to extend their extreme gratitude and thanks to Ranger Whitaker, Ranger Zoccola, the National Park Service, Northeast Search and Rescue, local fire and emergency services, and everyone else who has offered help, risking their lives to find Frank.” Marigliano graduated from high school last year, where he was a varsity athlete in football and track and field, and had just finished his freshman year at the State University of New York in Albany. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter and a eucharistic minister at St. Augustine Church in his hometown of New City, New York.
[Submitted by Bill Halainen, IO]


from the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA)
Fatal Fall Into Raymondskill Creek

Tatiana Culvert, 44, of Effort, Pennsylvania, was killed on Saturday afternoon when she slipped off a log and fell into Raymondskill Creek. According to friends who witnessed the accident, she was one of a group of six visitors who crossed the creek on a log that was about 30 feet above the water. Everyone else in the group crossed by straddling the log and sidling over, but Culvert attempted to walk across. She lost her balance, held onto the log for a moment with her hands, then lost her grip and fell into the creek below. The water was only about ten inches deep at that point and Culvert struck the rocks below the stream’s surface. Her friends immediately pulled her out of the creek and reported later that she remained conscious for a short time. One member of the party hiked out to the trailhead and called 911. Park rangers, paramedics, and the Milford Fire Department rescue team responded immediately, arriving with a few minutes of the initial call. By the time the rescuers arrived, Culvert was unconscious and had stopped breathing. CPR was begun and a defibrillator unit was used at the scene, but Culvert never regained consciousness. The cause of death is presumed to be traumatic injury associated with the fall. The accident occurred in an area where there are no established trails. Culvert is survived by her husband and five children. [Submitted by Doyle Nelson, Deputy Superintendent]


Yosemite National Park (CA)

Drowning in Merced River

from the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday,

June 03, 2003

Late on the afternoon of May 22nd, Marcario Muniz, Jr., 22, of Riverside, California, drowned after falling into the Merced River below the Vernal Fall footbridge. The river is in spring run-off and flowing at a very high level. Muniz and three friends were on a large sloping granite boulder that extended out into the river. Witnesses reported that Muniz had gone to the river’s edge to take a photograph when he slipped and fell into the raging waters. He was visible in the water briefly, then disappeared down the cataract. A witness called 911 by cell phone and reported the incident to park dispatch. Search and rescue personnel searched the river corridor for several hours that evening but could not locate Muniz. Two dog teams and shore-based searchers continued the effort the following morning. A dog handler spotted Muniz’ body wrapped over a log near the river’s edge in an eddy about 400 yards downstream from the point where he slipped into the water. Rescue team members were able to recover the body from shore by staying on top of the log.
[Submitted by Doug Roe, Special Agent]


Yosemite National Park News Release

May 23, 2003

For Immediate Release

Young Man Missing in Yosemite National Park After Falling into Merced River

Yosemite National Park Rangers will continue a search today for a young man who fell into the Merced River below Vernal Fall yesterday afternoon.
The young man slipped into the water while taking a photograph according to friends and witnesses to the accident.

Rangers conducted a search along the river corridor between the Vernal Fall footbridge and Happy Isles late yesterday. The search will continue today, with the focus remaining on the area just below the footbridge. Two scent dogs have been brought to assist in the search and swift water rescue teams will conduct more extensive search operations today.

Rescuers are being hampered by high water. Late rain and snows in April followed by the warm weather in May have created dangerously high waters.


Yosemite National Park News Release

May 23, 2003

For Immediate Release

River Fatality in Yosemite National Park

At approximately 11:00 am this morning, Yosemite National Park Rangers discovered the body of a young man who fell into the Merced River below Vernal Fall yesterday afternoon.

The young man slipped into the water while taking a photograph according to friends and witnesses to the accident.

Rangers conducted a search along the river corridor between the Vernal Fall footbridge and Happy Isles late yesterday and this morning with a 12-member ground search team and two dog teams, and the man was located in the water. Hazardous, high water conditions hampered the search efforts.

Late rain and snows in April followed by the warm weather in May have created dangerously high waters. Information regarding the identity of the man will be forthcoming upon notification of next of kin.


June 19, 2001 Yosemite National Park news release

Yosemite Concession Services Employee Dies While Hiking In Yosemite National Park

Timothy M. Shirk, a Yosemite Concession Services employee, died while hiking the Yosemite Falls Trail on June 24, 2001. The 20-year-old employee, a native of Tahoe City, California, was a housekeeper at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley. He had been working in the park for less than a month.

Shirk was hiking with four friends to the top of El Capitan, via the Yosemite Falls Trail. He and one other person got separated from the group, and stopped at the base of the Upper Yosemite Fall. The pair scrambled down into the basin at the bottom of the waterfall, when Shirk slipped and stumbled, falling 40 feet to his death. The National Park Service’s Search and Rescue team responded by helicopter to the incident. Shirk was pronounced dead at the scene about 1:30 p.m., having suffered a head injury. No foul play is suspected.



Yosemite National Park

June 20, 2000


A 34 year old woman from Toyota, Japan died on Monday afternoon when she accidentally fell into the Merced River above Vernal Fall. The victim, whose name is being withheld at the family’s request, had hiked with friends on the Mist Trail. While stopped for lunch, she slipped on wet rocks and fell into the water above the Silver Apron which drains into Emerald Pool. Once in the swift moving water, witnesses say the victim was quickly swept past the Silver Apron and was briefly seen in Emerald Pool. Witnesses to the accident called park rangers by cell phone.

Park Rangers, using a helicopter, were lifted to the area and were able to recover the body from Emerald Pool an hour-and-a-half after the accident. Rescue personnel attempted to resuscitate the victim at the scene. The victim was then flown to Yosemite Medical Clinic, and pronounced dead just after 4:00 p.m.

Emerald Pool is immediately above Vernal Fall on the Mist Trail, and is a popular destination for summer hikers. Signs in the area use strong language to warn hikers of the dangers of the water in that area.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

Wednesday, June 21, 2000

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

YOSEMITE PARK — A 34-year-old Japanese tourist drowned Monday afternoon after falling into the Merced River in Yosemite National Park.

The woman apparently slipped on wet rocks while hiking and fell into the swift flowing river. The current carried her to the treacherous Emerald Pool, a deep and rough body of water near the popular Mist Trail, said park spokesman Marc Stevens.

Two rangers, lowered by helicopter, recovered the tourist’s body. Family members, who asked authorities not to release her name, are making arrangements to have her body flown to her hometown.

The woman was one of five people to drown in the Emerald Pool in the past five years, Stevens said.



Yosemite National Park

July 12, 1999


Siddiq Parekh, of Diamond Bar, California, died on Saturday when he was accidentally swept over Nevada Fall on the John Muir Trail. Parekh, 31, was hiking with three friends on a two-day trip to climb Half Dome. He stopped near the Nevada Fall Footbridge to soak his feet in the Merced River and slipped on algae-covered rocks into the swift current and was washed over the 594-feet waterfall.

Parekh was an experienced Yosemite hiker and had made several trips to the park. Parekh’s fall was witnessed by one of his friends who called rangers on a cell phone. Rangers using a helicopter were able to recover Parekh’s body a few hours later.

Signs at the bridge use strong language and international symbols to warn hikers of the dangers of entering the water in that area. This marks the fourth death at Nevada Fall in the last four years.


August 10, 1998

Yosemite National Park news release


Richard “Ory” Benabou, a 23 year old man from Alameda, California, died yesterday while hiking on the Yosemite Falls trail. Benabou had been hiking off-trail with a group of friends when he fell into Yosemite Creek.
The accident, which occurred around 1 p.m., was reported to rangers by friends that hiked back down the 3.6 mile trail. Benabou, hiking alone, had apparently been trying to get to the edge of Yosemite Creek when he slipped and tumbled approximately 100′ before landing in the creek.

Rangers recovered Benabou’s body in a pool in the rough, middle section of the Yosemite Falls. The preliminary cause of death appears to be drowning.
This is the fourth confirmed, accidental death in Yosemite this year. There were nine fatal accidents in 1997.

8/11/98 The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

YOSEMITE — An Alameda man died in Yosemite National Park on Sunday after he slipped and fell into Yosemite Creek, park officials said.

Richard “Ory” Benabou, 23, was hiking through the park with friends when he split off from the group and decided to explore a more rugged area of the park, park spokesman Kendall Thompson said yesterday. Thompson said Benabou apparently lost his footing, tumbled about 100 feet through a cascade and then landed in the creek, which is part of Yosemite Falls.

The preliminary cause of death is drowning, he said.
Friends reported Benabou missing about 2 p.m., but his body was not retrieved by a rescue crew until 5 p.m., Thompson said. About 20 rescue workers flew into the area by helicopter and then swam in a pool of water to recover Benabou’s body.

It appears that Benabou was trying to get to the creek to cool off, Thompson said.
“He was off the trail in a rugged area, which is OK,” Thompson said. “But you need to be skilled in doing that. You always need to have a few extra skills when you leave the trail.” This is the fourth confirmed accidental death at the park so far this year, he said.


Monday, October 20, 1997

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

YOSEMITE — A 29-year-old Sri Lankan man died Saturday in Yosemite National Park while trying to save his drowning wife, park officials said.

Arjuna D.N. Babapulle of Sri Lanka and his wife, Juanita, were hiking in rough terrain along the Merced River above Vernal Falls about noon on Saturday, when Juanita Babapulle slipped and fell into Emerald Pool.

Arjuna Babapulle jumped into the water after his wife, who was thrown a line and helped to safety by other park visitors. Arjuna Babapulle, who could not swim, went under the water and drifted out of reach.
He was reportedly under water for about 15 minutes, when he floated close enough to the riverbank to be pulled from the water by other visitors. They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and were able to restore an intermittent pulse by the time rescue workers arrived.
The victim was airlifted to Yosemite Valley, where he was pronounced dead at 3 p.m.


Monday, July 7, 1997

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – Yosemite National Park officials say they have called off a search for a 35-year-old Mountain View man who is presumed dead after being swept over a 594-foot waterfall.

A park spokesman said Zhiming Li was swimming in a pool in a Merced River wading pool above Nevada Fall with 11 other hikers at about 5 p.m. Saturday when he lost his footing in chest-high water. He was swept downstream – under a foot bridge and over the edge of the fall.

Yosemite National Park news release


July 5, 1997

A 35 year old California man is missing and presumed dead after a late afternoon accident in Yosemite National Park.
Zhiming Li of Mountain View was with a group of 11 people who had hiked to the top of Nevada Fall Saturday afternoon. Some members of the party, including Li, were swimming and wading in a pool in the Merced River above the falls. Witnesses say the man was wading about chest high in the river about 5:00 p.m. when he lost his footing. One person on the riverbank unsuccessfully tried to rescue Li as he was swept downstream. Other witnesses saw the man swept under the footbridge and then over the brink of the 594 foot waterfall.

Member of the party immediately headed down the trail for help, notifying rangers at approximately 6:30 p.m. National Park Service personnel including rangers, Search and Rescue team members and a helicopter were called in to search for the missing man. The search was called off at approximately 9:00 p.m. because of nightfall.
The search for Li will resume at first light Sunday morning. The incident remains under investigation.




Snake river warning sign at end of Cattleman's bridge road: sign river closed Yosemite:


Grand Teton National Park Media Release
Incidents Stress Importance of Boater Safety on the Snake River

August 20, 2020

MOOSE, WY- Grand Teton National Park staff have been extremely busy with several search and rescue operations on the Snake River in recent weeks. All boaters are encouraged to know their skill level and wear a personal floatation device (PFD) while recreating on the river.

Park staff have responded to eight incidents in the last month, specifically in the Bar BC area of the river. In addition, there have been several incidents that resulted in capsized or pinned vessels that were resolved with the assistance of partners or by private boaters without the help of park personnel. The outcomes of these incidents have been favorable, but several close calls occurred. The park recognizes and appreciates the efforts of concessionaire river guides and fellow boaters that lent a hand as their efforts likely saved the lives of those they helped.

When floating the Snake River, it is vitally important that boaters know their skill level. Almost all recent incidents on the river have occurred in the Deadmans Bar to Moose Landing section, specifically in the Bar BC area. This is the most accident-prone river section in Grand Teton. The river drops more steeply here and the current increases. Only boaters with advanced skill levels should attempt this section due to the braided nature of the river, swift water, and midstream obstructions from log jams. Several people have had their vessels submerged by or have been tangled up in these midstream log jams because they were boating outside their skill level. These instances can prove extremely dangerous and even fatal.

Recent incidents have also involved boaters who were making last-minute decisions. The river requires the ability to efficiently maneuver over tight quarters and anticipate routes well in advance. Sight lines are short and channel options that existed hours before may be blocked. Boat operators may need to stop the boat to scout and choose an appropriate route. Those recreating on the Snake River should understand their skill level and consider avoiding the more challenging sections if unprepared.

The use of personal floatation devices (PFDs) saved lives in recent incidents. During one of these incidents, both occupants of the boat hit a log jam and fell into the water. They were swept under the log jam, resurfaced, and were swept under a second time. One of the individuals stated, “the life jacket saved my life.” Boaters may feel comfortable in the water and with their swimming abilities, but with cold water temperatures and fast-moving water, fatigue can quickly set in. All boaters are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD of the appropriate size for each person on board. PFDs must be readily accessible and in good working condition. PFDs should be worn at all times while boating. All passengers age 12 and under are required to wear a PFD whenever a vessel is underway.

In addition to knowing one’s skill level and wearing a PFD, boaters should also check the weather forecast the day they plan to float the river. Once launched, it is difficult to turn back. Mountain weather is often dynamic and changes quickly.

Boaters are also reminded to tell someone where they are going and when they plan to return. If an accident or injury occurs, this information could prove vital if a rescue is necessary.


True Confessions of a Rescuee

September 13, 2016

“The following incident was provided to us from a visitor who wished to share his near-tragedy in the hopes of others avoiding a similar experience. We appreciate the contributor’s candor but are especially grateful that he survived to tell his story. For anonymity, we will refer to the contributor as Rob.

The story begins when Rob receives an inflatable standup paddleboard as a gift. The salesperson recommends a leash (a coiled cord connecting the paddler’s ankle to the paddleboard to prevent separation if the paddler falls off the board). Rob, considering himself an intermediate-level paddleboarder on Southern California waters, disregards this advice.

On August 5, Rob vacations at Yosemite and launches his paddleboard on Tenaya Lake with his six-year-old son seated on the board. Rob’s son is wearing a child’s life jacket (PFD), which is required by law. Rob straps his own PFD to the board and does not wear it (as allowed by law). The beach is crowded with visitors.

Not uncommon for Yosemite, afternoon winds pick up and create wind chop on the lake. Rob decides to turn the board around and return to shore.

During the turn and with the wind now at Rob’s back, Rob falls from the board and separates from it. Rob tries to catch his board but the wind blows it away from him faster than he can swim to it. Rob realizes he cannot catch the board, which still has his son on it, as well as his own PFD. The water is cool. Moreover, Tenaya Lake is over 8,000 feet in elevation and while most people will not feel altitude illness at this elevation, anyone who isn’t acclimated will tire more quickly than at lower elevations.
In short, Rob is experiencing exhaustion and he is still about 200 feet from the shore. More to the point, Rob is beginning the drowning process. Out of options, he begins to yell for help and encourage his now-frightened son to do the same. Rob is starting to slip beneath the water.

Drowning is Rob’s probable outcome but three off-duty Yosemite emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and a triathlete are on the beach and respond to their calls for help. The triathlete reaches Rob first, followed by two of the EMTs with a floatation device, and they help Rob safely return to the beach. The third EMT assists Rob’s son back to shore.

This near tragedy ends safely but if Rob had been further from shore or the rescuers were not at the beach at that time, this might have ended differently.


One, in Rob’s words, always wear—do not just bring along—a PFD. Rob’s experience is very typical for small craft; things happen suddenly and if you are not properly wearing a PFD when it goes wrong, it is unlikely you will have time to find it and put it on. In short, skipping the simple step of wearing your PFD might cost you your life.

Two, Rob also points out the importance of wearing an ankle leash when operating a paddleboard. Weather can change quickly and if you fall off your board, you may not be able to catch it.”


Floating the Merced – A Tale of Three SARs

June 12, 2016, Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

(read the entire blog post at: https://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/Floating-the-Merced-A-Tale-of-Three-SARs.htm )

. . . #1 – Near North Pines Campground (above Stoneman Bridge) a young male and female adult in an inflatable raft are unable to negotiate obstacles in heavy current and collide with a tree. Neither have personal floatation devices (PFDs), aka “life jackets.” They scramble up the tree and await rescue.

#2 – A 60 year-old male unties his inflatable raft from a group of other rafts. Although he recently inflated his raft, it is now roughly half deflated which affects its buoyancy and maneuverability. He misses the take-out point, ditches his raft, and tries to swim to shore. He is not wearing a PFD. He is able to grab a buoy and a companion is briefly able to assist him. When he tries to stand, the combination of poor footing and strong current carries him downstream and he disappears. An active search is underway as of this writing.

#3 – A solo young male in an inflatable raft near North Pines Campground is not able to negotiate obstacles in the heavy current. His raft passes through a strainer (a cluster of branches in the river). The strainer separates him from his raft which he is able to grab on the other side of the strainer. He then grabs a tree which he scrambles up and awaits rescue. He is wearing a PFD but rescuers note it is not properly buckled but it is not known if this is the result of passing through the strainer. Rafting in an area of the river which is not open to rafting has dangerous rapids as well as trees and other obstacles. After being rescued the young man is issued a violation notice for rafting in a closed area.

What Went Right

In the two successful SARs, all three persons remained calm and stayed in place to await professional rescue.

Lessons Learned

Do some planning and research before leaving home. What are current river conditions? Where are there hazards to avoid? What type of equipment is suitable for these conditions? What are the local legal requirements? (Please see https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/boating.htm). In all three cases, the rafts in use were probably not of a suitable quality for current Merced River conditions. While we make no brand recommendations, it is suggested that persons wanting to float any river consult with a reputable outfitter who is knowledgeable about river recreation and can recommend a proper watercraft for such conditions. The old adage is often true: “you get what you pay for.” Are you ready to put your life into it?

Always wear a properly fitted and serviceable PFD on the river – we do. Anyone 18 and older floating the Merced is required to have a Coast Guard PFD immediately available (under 18 must wear their PFD). This is a fairly universal boating requirement. However, occupants of large vessels almost always have time to obtain an “immediately available” PFD if something starts to go wrong or conditions change. This is rarely the case where swift water is involved because mishaps occur very quickly.

Stick to the commercially approved area of the Merced River: Stoneman Bridge to Sentinel Beach. The river is currently about class 1 or class 2 in this area, but above and below are up to class 3, class 4, and higher. Obstacles are also more prevalent outside of the commercial area. When looking for a place to float and you notice your area of the river is nearly abandoned while other parts of the river are full of rafters, ask yourself, “is something unsafe about this section of the river?”

Boat with companions. There is greater safety in numbers.

Strongly consider a wetsuit. The water flowing through Yosemite Valley is recent snowmelt and can be anywhere between 40° and 50° Fahrenheit (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=11264500). Sudden immersions will cause cold-shock and hypothermia can set in rapidly.

In summary, the Merced River is currently providing opportunity for recreation. However, no one should attempt river recreation unless they are well versed in its hazards including its powerful currents, cold water temperatures, entrapments and other dangers. Combine these natural conditions with lack of planning or experience and unsuitable watercraft or no equipment, and your day of river fun can quickly come to ruin.

Respect the river.


From the NPS Daily report July 24, 2015

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV, AZ

Rangers Save Couple On Lake Mohave

A husband and wife in their 70s were out on a small bass fishing boat all day on July 8th and returning from the Cottonwood area in the evening when the husband, who was operating the boat, began having difficulty seeing in the fading light. He decided to try to put ashore for the night at Chili Pepper Cove on Lake Mohave.

When he got out of the boat, he inadvertently knocked it away and out of his reach. His wife tried to throw him a line without success. The wind, blowing at 15 to 25 knots all day, immediately took her away from her spouse, who attempted to swim back to the boat.  The wife threw him a PFD, which she said hit the water, though she was unsure if her husband was able to retrieve it.

The wife was located a couple of hours later about two miles northwest of where she last saw her husband.  Nearly inconsolable, she was not wearing a PFD and the only PFD on board was of questionable service.

A search was started for the husband with the wife aboard the ranger boat in the area she seemed to recognize.  The husband was found on the shore in the cove, yelling for assistance. He was wet, cold and stated that he was planning on making a shelter for the night and waiting until the morning to flag down help. The PFD that was thrown to him by his wife was in the same poor condition as the one found aboard their boat. At the request of rangers the couple voluntarily surrendered their old PFD’s for new ones supplied through the “Ready, Set, Wear It” program.

Once back at the dock, the husband declined further medical assessment, while his wife was overcome by the emotions of the event and nearly fainted. He said that he had Type IV PFDs (throwable), flares, and a marine band radio on board, none of which were known to the wife. Nor did she know how to use them.

Rangers suggest that a safety briefing is given to all occupants of a vessel by the operator prior to departing on the water. This briefing should include how to locate and use all safety equipment aboard the boat. Rangers also remind visitors not to jump from moving vessels or in windy conditions that will not permit them to stay with their boat, and to wear their lifejackets while on the water.


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV

Storm Leads To 70 Distress Calls, 11 Rescues

Rangers and other first responders conducted numerous search and rescue operations at Lake Mead yesterday afternoon after a thunderstorm struck the Boulder Basin.
The storm began around 3:45 p.m. and created five-foot waves and reports of eight-foot swells. Park dispatch received more than 70 distress calls from boaters, 11 of whom required rescue.
As of late last night, all had reportedly made it to land, but one group of four remained unaccounted for. Rangers had contact with them and confirmed their GPS coordinates, which were within walking distance of Callville Bay Marina. Rangers made repeated attempts to reconnect with them to make sure they made it to safety, but cellphone calls were not answered.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue conducted aerial searches around the area but could not locate the group. If rangers don’t hear from them by this morning, the search will continue.
A woman in her 30s was rescued around 8 p.m. in the middle of the lake after treading water without a life jacket for more than three hours. She was on a personal watercraft and decided to take her life jacket off to go swimming just before the storm hit. She was rescued, treated and released. Her husband and stepson were rescued earlier in the evening.

The remaining individuals who were rescued were wearing their life jackets. At least one vessel sank and others had to be towed back to the marina.


from the National Park Service Morning Report of Monday, June 09, 2008

Curecanti National Recreation Area (CO)

Man Drowns After Rafting Accident

On Saturday, May 31st, a 57-year-old Denver man began a raft trip from the Riverway picnic area on the Gunnison River with his wife and three children. As they tried to maneuver their raft around an island near Cooper Ranch, it hit the island and flipped over, spilling all five family members into the river. The woman and her three children were able to make it to the island, but her husband was last seen face down and unresponsive in the river. The woman and children were able to swim to shore and notify a passing motorist, who in turn called 911. Rangers responded along with units from the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department, Gunnison Fire Department and Gunnison Valley Hospital EMS. The man’s body was found nearly three miles downstream from the point where the raft flipped. CPR was performed until paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead. Neither of the adults was wearing a lifejacket. Record snowpack in the Gunnison Basin and recent warm temperatures have contributed to dangerously high river flows through this section of the park. Ranger Erin Warrem was IC. [Submitted by John Patmore, Blue Mesa District Ranger]


from the National Park Service Morning Report, June 2, 2008

Redwood National and State Parks (CA)

Three Men Rescued, One Drowns After Boat Capsizes

Clarence Hall, 44, died on May 20th when a boat that he was in with three other people capsized near the mouth of the Klamath River. None of the four men on board was wearing a life jacket. Hall, Guadalupe Oscar, Nonnie Lee, and Michael Perry were gill-netting near the mouth of the river in a 16-foot, flat-bottomed jet drive boat when a docking line got caught in the propeller. The boat was swept into the surf zone and capsized. Perry and Oscar stayed with the overturned boat, but the other two men were caught in the waves. A Yurok tribal rescue boat arrived on scene shortly thereafter and picked up Perry and Oscar. Perry then directed his rescuers toward the point where he thought Hall was located. They didn’t find him, but – with the help of a Coast Guard helicopter out of Eureka – found Lee two miles off shore, where the river’s current had carried him. Lee, who has a prosthetic leg and had been in the 55-degree water for nearly an hour and a half, was still alive when a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reached him and placed him in a basket to be hoisted into the helicopter. He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Redding to receive treatment for hypothermia and near drowning. Hall’s body later washed up on shore. [Submitted by The Daily Triplicate]


from the National Park Service Morning Report of Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NY,PA)
Fisherman Drowns In River Rapids

Peter Hardouin, 62, drowned in the Barryville-Shohola rapids on the Delaware River after his canoe capsized around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 12th. Hardouin and a companion were paddling and fishing as they went through the rapids when the canoe capsized and both ended up in the river. There were no Coast Guard-approved life jackets on board, just Type IV seat cushions that don’t meet USCG requirements. Hardouin was submerged for about 20 minutes before bystanders recovered him and brought him to the New York shoreline. They then performed CPR on him for about 20 minutes. It took a further 20 minutes for rangers and local police officers and first responders to arrive on scene. Hardouin’s body was transported downstream to the park’s Barryville office. Rangers and state troopers are investigating. [Submitted by Al Henry, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New River Gorge National River (WV)
River Rafter Drowns in Iron Ring Rapid

The park received a call for help on June 14th from a commercial rafting company running trips on the Gauley River. According to reports, the raft trip was running Iron Ring Rapid on the Upper Gauley River when one of the passengers, Neville Williams, 67, of St. Michael’s, Maryland, lost his balance and fell out of the raft and into the Class V rapid. Williams remained at the surface for a second and then disappeared into the turbulent water just above an undercut rock with a crack referred to as Woodstock Rock. Guides who had positioned themselves as safeties below the rapid rushed to the point last seen and immediately threw weighted ropes into the rapids above the rock. The guide for Williams’ raft ran upstream, jumped into the rapid, and positioned herself in the water to be flushed through an area called the Flume of Doom, where she searched for Williams. Another guide secured a line to his rescue vest and with the aid of others lowered himself into the rapid above Woodstock Rock. On the second lowering, the guide felt what he believed to be a life jacket at the base of the rock. Several attempts were made to free the item with paddles, poles and weighted drag ropes, but without success. One of the guides was able to climb to higher ground, where a radio call for assistance was made. Upon receiving the call, NPS rangers and two volunteer rescue squads responded to the scene. The Army Corps of Engineers was notified and the Summersville Dam, upstream of the rapid, reduced it’s discharge to minimum flow. Once on scene, rangers determined that rescue efforts would be suspended until the river flow was reduced. Upon nightfall, all personnel were called off the river. Recovery efforts began the following morning. River rangers were assisted by five experienced guides from the rafting company and members of the Anstead and Nuttall volunteer fire departments. After approximately five hours of working with grappling hooks, ropes, pulleys and a complex rigging system, Williams’ body was freed from under Woodstock Rock. Evidence indicated that his hand became entrapped in the rocks, causing him to be held underwater. The body was transported by Jan-Care ambulance to the West Virginia medical examiner. The follow-up investigation is being conducted by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, which by legislation has jurisdiction over commercial rafting in the park. Ranger Peggy Brown served as IC throughout the incident. [Submitted by Gary Hartley, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buffalo National River (AR)

Successful SAR For Missing Kayakers

On the evening of Wednesday, May 18th, rangers met with a woman
at Pruitt Landing who’d reported that her 19-year-old son
and six-year-old granddaughter
were missing from a kayaking trip
on the river. She told rangers that the two had last been seen
kayaking down the river from Pruitt sometime after noon and
that they were supposed to try out the kayak,
then return to Pruitt within the hour.
Her son had invited his niece to go along, and she sat in front of
him in the single-person kayak. The pair were dressed in swimwear
and lifejackets and had just one bottle of water with them.
Rangers from the Upper and Middle Districts attempted to locate
the pair
at various river access points downriver to Woolum Landing,
approximately 26 miles away from Pruitt, while a kayak was
launched from Pruitt to begin searching down the river.
Several campers along the river reported seeing the kayak
go by with the man paddling strongly and singing loudly,
showing no signs of stopping. By 10:30 p.m.,
fog rising off the river dramatically reduced visibility
and the river operation was halted until first light on Thursday.
The parents described their son, a college student, as a genius,
but very much lacking in common sense.
They did offer some encouraging
information, though he had recently completed formal
survival training. Overnight lows along the river
dipped down below 40 degrees. An NPS johnboat was
immediately launched in the morning, and searchers
found the pair alive and well along the river approximately
23 miles from Pruitt. The man said that he was a ‘paddling machine’
who didn’t think about turning around until it started getting dark,
despite numerous opportunities to stop and ask for help along the way.

He at least used his recently acquired survival skills
to stay warm overnight by building a large leaf pile and
huddling in it with his niece. They were boated three miles downriver
to the Woolum access, where they were reunited with other members
of their family. [Submitted by Lee Buschkowsky, Upper District Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gauley River National Recreation Area (WV)

Whitewater Rafting Season Concludes

The fall whitewater season on the Gauley River has concluded, with rangers logging responses to numerous EMS and search and rescue incidents. Ranger Charles Mitchum assisted in the evacuation of a rafter with a dislocated shoulder and broken nose and a rafter with head and neck injuries. Ranger Randy Fisher investigated a drowning and assisted with an elbow dislocation during the annual Gauley downriver race. River ranger Bryan Hunter provided EMS to a raft guide who suffered a mild heart attack during his trip. The raft guide was evacuated and transported to a hospital. River rangers conducted numerous rescues of accidental swimmers and visitors on pinned rafts and recovered an array of lost equipment. Summersville Reservoir is a center for powerboat recreation during the summer months and at the end of the season the Army Corp of Engineers must lower the lake by 75 feet to make room for next spring’s floods. The dependable flows from this fall drawdown attract thousands of paddlers to one of the country’s most popular runs on the Class V Gauley River. These scheduled releases begin on the first Friday after Labor Day and continue every weekend for five weeks. According to American Whitewater, a whitewater rafting organization, the rapids on the Gauley – Pillow Rock, Insignificant, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, and Sweet’s Falls – are world famous and deserve their notoriety. They are big, steep, demanding, and can have severe consequences for the paddler in the wrong place. [Submitted by Randy Fisher, Park Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

Three Drown in Snake River Boating Accident

A Grand Teton Lodge Company scenic float trip raft on the Snake River overturned a half mile south of the old Bar BC dude ranch on June 2nd, spilling 13 passengers into the river. The company reported the accident to Teton interagency dispatch at 11:05 a.m., and a response was immediately launched. Rangers, rescue personnel, ambulances and EMS personnel on an interagency helicopter all headed to the accident scene. CPR was begun on two of the victims, but neither could be revived; a third was submerged in a log jam on the river and was deceased when found. Several other people from the raft were rescued by other scenic raft trip companies and by a ranger in a rescue raft and were taken to the Moose boat landing, where rangers and emergency medical personnel provided care. The three victims were a 63-year-old man from South Carolina, his 58-year-old wife, and a 69-year-old woman from Louisiana. All 13 people on the raft were wearing lifejackets designed specifically for this use. An investigation into the accident is underway; a cause has not yet been determined. [Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Specialist]

A GTNP park news release also said:

On average, approximately 63,000 people float the Snake River with commercially guided trips in Grand Teton National Park each summer. Guided float trips account for about two-thirds of the total number of people who float the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park every year.

and Update on Fatal Boating Accident

Additional details have been received about the accident on the Snake River that resulted in the deaths of three visitors on a commercial boating trip. The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call from the Grand Teton Lodge Company just before 11 a.m. on June 2nd, reporting that one of their scenic raft trip boats had tipped over in the “Many Moose” area of the Snake River, one-half mile downstream of the historic Bar BC dude ranch. Twelve passengers were spilled out of the raft and into the Snake River as the boat became lodged against a root ball of a live tree that had recently flushed into that section of the river during spring run-off. The 15-passenger raft, carrying twelve people and one boatman, had launched earlier that morning to float a ten-mile stretch of river within the park. Boatmen from four commercial float trip raft companies, who were in the vicinity at the time of the accident, assisted in getting nine passengers out of the water and onto the riverbank. As previously reported, the remaining three people drowned in this accident. Park rangers, a Teton Interagency contract helicopter, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, and Teton County Search and Rescue volunteers also assisted in the search and rescue operation. The section of the Snake River below Bar BC ranch braids into three narrow channels. The center channel, where the accident occurred, takes a slight curve to the right, making it challenging to get a clear downstream view until a boat has fully entered into the channel’s flow. A live tree had recently been uprooted and flushed into this channel, where it was temporarily snagged on a submerged gravel bar. The tree was swept away with the river’s flow by the following morning. The force of the river current pushed the raft toward the tree, where it bumped into the exposed root ball and became pinned by the current. The swift flowing water then pushed the boat up and into a vertical position, leaving the passenger compartment facing the upstream flow. As the boat tipped onto its side, the passengers fell into the water. The Snake River is a natural, multi-channeled river with woody debris deposits and gravel bars scattered across along the length of its route. Along the 25-mile river corridor from Jackson Lake Dam to the Moose Bridge, there are only four river landings, spaced several miles apart. Much of the river course lies remote from any road access. The river current can be strong enough to push debris and load debris at river bends or gravel bars. The investigation of this boating accident is continuing. It’s estimated that there have been 20 fatalities associated with recreation on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park since record keeping began in the 1930s. [Submitted by Joan Anzelmo and Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Specialists]


from the NPS Daily Report

Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ,NV)

Boating Accident, Follow-up on Drownings

On the afternoon of Saturday, May 13th, (2006) an 18-year-old woman from California was critically injured when hit by a boat propeller. The woman was riding on the back of a personal watercraft (PWC) being driven by a 16-year-old girl when the PWC drove in front of a boat operated by a 16-year-old male. He tried to avoid the PWC, but was not able to miss it completely. The boat hit the rear end of the PWC and the passenger was hit several times by the boat’s propeller. A witness to the accident called for help at about 2:20 p.m. and brought the injured woman to the launch ramp. She was treated by rangers and EMS personnel, then flown to UMC Trauma in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, searches continued yesterday for the two people who drowned in the lake over the weekend. On Sunday morning, rangers and the park’s dive team recovered the body of the 16-year-old who drowned on Saturday night. They then resumed the search for the 39-year-old man who disappeared on Friday night in Overton Arm (not the Arizona side of the park as was previously reported). The search proved fruitless, though, and was called off at 5 p.m. [Submitted by Roxanne Dey, Public Affairs Specialist]


Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ,NV)

Two Drownings Reported Over Past Weekend

Two drownings occurred in the park this past weekend – the first on Friday afternoon, the second on Saturday evening. The first incident was reported just after 5 p.m. on Friday. A visitor notified park dispatch that a 39-year-old man had been swimming off a houseboat north of Echo Bay on the Arizona side of the lake when he went underwater and failed to resurface. The missing swimmer was part of a group of about 30 visitors from California on three houseboats. Rangers were on scene within a half hour and began dive operations in an effort to find his body; at the time of the report, the search was still underway. On Saturday evening, dispatch received another call reporting a possible drowning, this time a 16-year-old man from North Las Vegas. Rangers were told that he and a friend went swimming from the Government Wash area on the Nevada side of the lake out towards an island. The boy began having difficulty and called for help. Two other young men in the party swam out to him, but were unable to keep him from disappearing beneath the surface. Rangers searched the area for several hours on Saturday night, but were unable to find him. The park’s dive team is searching for his body. [Submitted by Roxanne Dey, Public Affairs Specialist]


from the NPS Daily Report

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

River Rescue

Four visitors floating the Snake River in a borrowed, 12-foot inflatable raft flipped the raft on the “Rookery” logjam below Deadman’s Bar Launch on July 5th. This was the second river accident the group experienced on the same trip. After the first accident, the group was cautioned on the complexity of the river, but they were determined to continue. A river ranger who was watching the group saw the second accident. When the raft flipped, Barbara Herman, 62, was swept under the logjam until only her head and shoulders were above water. Herman was just about to go underwater and was hanging on to a log with one arm when the ranger extricated her, narrowly escaping being swept under a sizeable logjam. The park had previously issued a press release to heighten the public’s awareness of river conditions and water temperatures following several river incidents this summer.
[Submitted by Bill Holda, Acting Chief Ranger]


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ,NV)
Man Dies in Boating Accident

Eddie Cortez, 26, of Pico Rivera, California, was fatally injured in a boating accident around 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 29th. Cortez and a group of friends were boating on Lake Mohave when he and several others jumped off the back of the boat to go swimming. Someone on the vessel accidentally turned on the engine and Cortez’s legs were cut off by the boat propeller. He was taken to Telephone Cove on the Arizona side of Lake Mohave, then transported by ambulance to the hospital in Bullhead City, where he was pronounced dead by the medical staff. This was the park’s ninth fatality so far this year. [Submitted by Roxanne Dey, Public Affairs Officer]


From the National Park Service Morning Report

Monday, August 09, 2004

Saint Croix National Scenic River (WI)
Two Drownings in St. Croix River

“… rangers responded to another drowning in the river, this time near the Osceola day use area. Ronald Butcher, 39, was floating on a raft on the river with his wife and 13-year-old son when a rope attached from an inner tube (with cooler) to his ankle snagged on a submerged log and pulled him under. Several other people also floating on rafts in the area tried to locate and assist Butcher, but the swift current prevented them for doing so. The Osceola (Wisconsin) Volunteer Fire Department and St. Croix District rangers managed to locate and bring Butcher to the surface within 15 minutes. CPR was immediately begun. Butcher was transported by boat and ambulance to the Osceola Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead after continued life saving efforts failed. Sergeant Butcher, known to many of the St. Croix District rangers, was a 13-year veteran of the Chisago County (Minnesota) Sheriffs Department.”
[Submitted by Brian R. Adams, Chief Resource Protection]



from the National Park Service Morning Report, Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Little River Canyon National Preserve (AL)
Four-Year-Old Drowns In River

On Sunday, June 1st, a four-year-old girl was found floating in the river by two 12-year-old girls who were swimming near the Canyon Mouth day use area. The two girls – soon joined by a man who came out to help – got the child to shore. They found that she was not breathing and had no pulse. CPR was begun and continued by a nurse who was visiting the park until a Cherokee County ambulance arrived. The child was taken to a hospital in Centre, Alabama, but did not survive. Early indications are that the child went into the water without the knowledge of any accompanying adults. She may have been in the water for around 20 minutes when found. The Cherokee County Department of Human Resources is investigating. [Submitted by Kimberly Kirk, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Haleakala National Park (HI)
Search Suspended For Missing Swimmer

On the afternoon of Saturday, October 6th, rangers received a report of a missing swimmer in a closed section of a river above Makahiku Falls in Kipahulu. Searches of the river began immediately with the assistance of the Coast Guard and local emergency service organizations, but proved completely fruitless and were suspended on Sunday afternoon. Edward Pedrick, 27, hiked up to a deep pool above the falls with two companions to do some jumping in the water even through the Kipahulu area has been under a month-long closure due to heavy rains and swift currents. Upon arrival, they talked about the high and swift water and determined that it was too dangerous to enter. When Pedrick’s companions turned around to return, they heard a splash behind them. Pedrick had either decided to jump in anyhow or slipped and fell into the water. He did not reappear. Investigation also revealed that rangers had talked to Pedrick early on Saturday morning and had emphasized that the stream was closed due to high water. Regular patrols of the area will continue and divers will look for Pedrick once the river level drops. [Submitted by Dominic Cardea, Public Information Officer]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Colonial National Historical Park (VA)

Drowning At College Creek

The park received a 911 call from James City County police around midday on July 19th, reporting that a child was missing in the water at the College Creek beach along Colonial Parkway. Rangers responded along with county fire and police units. According to the mother of the five-year-old girl, she was last seen wading in the creek. The mother was distracted for a moment and the girl was gone when she looked back. A search was begun. About 30 minutes after the initial call and less than 10 minutes after rescue personnel arrived on scene, two county officers found the girl floating face down in the creek about 100 yards from the point last scene. She was pulled from the water and advanced resuscitation efforts were begun, but she did not survive. College Creek has a very strong current at this location and the area is posted with warning signs advising visitors not to swim or wade in the area. Rangers who patrol the area frequently stop to advise visitors of the danger. [Submitted by Tom Nash, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Friday, July 20, 2007

Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ,NV)

Drowning In Lake Mohave

The park received an emergency call via marine band radio on the afternoon of July 7th in which a woman reported that her husband had disappeared while swimming in Lake Mohave. Rangers were on scene in about six minutes. The operators of at least four private vessels who heard the emergency call over the radio also responded to the area to help locate the man. About an hour after the initial call for help came in, the victim’s body was located by one of the private citizens assisting with the search. Rangers on the NPS dive team and a diver from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department recovered his body at about 8 p.m. The man’s wife reported that a group of family members and their pet dog had been boating and were swimming in the water. The couple had brought along four nieces and nephews from Los Angeles on their trip. They decided to head back to shore when the wind increased, creating two- to three-foot waves. When she reached shore, her husband was no longer swimming behind her. Although the children were all wearing life jackets and made it safely to shore, he did not have one on. About 99 percent of the drownings that have occurred in the park could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing life jackets. [Submitted by Roxanne Dey, Public Affairs Officer]

UNPREPARED HIKERS (and climbers)

This hiker in Grand Teton National Park (not anyone from reports at this page) has a half liter of diet soda, a park newspaper in his back pocket and not much else. At least he has boots with tread and not flip flops. See Hiking Advice

String Lake hiker with diet soda: a man off on a hike, in hiking boots, shorts and a t-shirt, carrying a half liter of diet soda and not much else


from a Yosemite Park Search and rescue blog:

Hiker Seriously Injured after Slipping on Granite

September 05, 2018 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On the afternoon of June 24, 2017, a hiker slipped on granite while crossing Tenaya Creek upstream of Hidden Falls; she fell 30 feet over the waterfall onto the rocks below. One of the subject’s friends waited with her, while the other hiked back to the Mirror Lake Trail to call 911 for help. The friend waited for rescuers to arrive on the trail so that she could guide rescuers to the off-trail location of the injured subject.

Once rescuers arrived on scene, they worked quickly to stabilize the subject and prepare her for a short-haul rescue. A short-haul rescue is a method in which one or more persons (subjects and/or rescuers) are suspended on a fixed line (100–250 feet) beneath a helicopter. The suspended persons are then transported a short distance (short-haul) through the air, normally from an inaccessible location to a safe landing area. Due to the extent of her injuries, the subject was not moved out of the water before rescuers could carefully place her in the litter. Rescuers became concerned about the subject becoming hypothermic, since the water flowing over Hidden Falls originates as snowmelt. “It was pretty scary waiting for a long time and not knowing if they were going to find me,” reflected the subject. But once rescuers arrived on scene the subject felt relieved and appreciated the open communication that rescuers had with her regarding incident operations.

Although patient care was paramount on rescuers’ minds, the extraction method was carefully considered since it greatly impacted rescuer safety. One rescuer noted, “Using the helicopter was probably the best way to [extract the subject due to] the nature of her injuries and in terms of keeping rescuers safe.” A litter carryout from this location presented several hazards to rescuers including off-trail travel, boulder fields, and large downed trees. “It would have put a lot of people in danger to extract her from there [via a litter carry out] because the trail conditions were nonexistent,” stated a rescuer.

The subject was short-hauled to Ahwahnee Meadow despite a burst of heavy rain at Hidden Falls. Once 551, the park’s contract helicopter, landed in Ahwahnee Meadow, the subject was transferred to the care of Yosemite National Park EMS staff and, later, to a medical helicopter that flew her to a hospital. At the hospital, the subject learned that she had fractured her pelvis, L-3 vertebra, and right hip. “It’s definitely extremely humbling,” stated the subject regarding the injuries she sustained. She further explained that her physicians told her “[L-3 is the lowest [vertebrae] you can break without having permanent spinal cord damage, [or paralysis].”

The subject made a full recovery and continues to recreate in Yosemite. “[The incident] made me realize that despite an injury you can’t just give up what you love to do.”

Lessons Learned

Be aware of changing stream conditions due to varied water levels. In the spring, water rages down the Merced River and other waterways into Yosemite Valley. As the water level lowers throughout the summer, rocks that were once under water become exposed. Be cautious when scrambling in stream beds because rocks that are currently exposed may have been underwater earlier in the year, causing them to be water polished.

Be aware of downstream hazards. When crossing a stream, be aware of downstream hazards and the consequences of losing your footing at that location. A rescuer noted, “ If [the subject] had been crossing somewhere else and she messed up, it could have been even more catastrophic depending on what was below her, or it could have been less.” Often visitors wade or swim above Yosemite’s waterfalls, not completely recognizing the hazard downstream of them.

Respect natural elements. The glacially polished granite in Yosemite is slippery even when dry. When wet, the smooth granite practically becomes a frictionless surface. Recognizing the inherent danger of scrambling on granite boulders and surfaces encourages visitors to make more informed choices about their recreational activities. “You are submitting to the elements when you are doing outdoor activities,” reflected the subject as she described the lesson taken away from the incident. “I think I have a lot more respect for Mother Nature, for the unforgiving planet, and it made me realize that even the best climbers and hikers in the world are not immune to Mother Nature and the elements.” The subject also noted that her situational awareness and risk management process has benefically changed due to the incident. “Before I would take a lot more risks, jumping across things or climbing something that is not necessarily super safe. It was honestly a really beneficial wake-up call that even though I am 22 years old, I am not indestructible and I need to be aware of my surroundings to be a good outdoor person.”


from a park report

park rangers respond to incidents

Date: August 18, 2016

MOOSE, WY —Grand Teton National Park “rangers have recently responded to several incidents involving rescue and medical assistance of visitors, including two major rescues this last week.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “Grand Teton has some of the most skilled and experienced staff in the National Park Service. Recent major search and rescue incidents have kept park rangers very busy. As superintendent, I always consider the risk to our employees as we initiate operations to assist, rescue or save the lives of our visitors.” Vela strongly encourages anyone that may attempt to experience the iconic peaks or any other outdoor experience in the park to be as prepared as possible.

Teton Interagency Dispatch received a report of two people stranded on Petzoldt Ridge at approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9. The incident was reported by another climbing party that heard calls for help from two 20-year old male climbers from Shreveport, Louisiana.

In an effort to summit the Grand Teton, they went off route and found themselves stranded on a ledge after one of the men took a 25-foot fall and lost much of their rock climbing gear in the process. They had a cell phone but service was unavailable. The climbers spent approximately four hours trying to find the correct route, before yelling for help as they saw other climbers on Exum Ridge.

The weather conditions and remaining daylight were optimal for park rangers to successfully extract the two men by helicopter short haul. The men were not injured. On Thursday, the men hiked back to retrieve their overnight camping gear from the moraine in Garnet Canyon. One of the rescued men said, “We severely underestimated the physical strength and endurance required for the climb.”

On Wednesday, August 10, park rangers rescued a climber from Mount Moran. A 30-year old man from Russia attempted to climb Mount Moran via the Falling Ice Glacier. He started his adventure early morning Tuesday, August 9, and camped in the area of the glacier that evening. On Wednesday he tried to ascend between Drizzlepuss and CMC Route, but found it to be more difficult than anticipated. He downclimbed to the glacier and determined he could not find a safe way to descend further. He then contacted a friend to help, and his friend went to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache to alert Jenny Lake Rangers.

Rangers flew to the site and assisted the climber onto the Teton Interagency Helicopter and flew him to safety. He was not injured.

An interview with the climber indicated that he did not gather any credible information about climbing Mount Moran, was not properly equipped for such a climb, and did not stop at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station or obtain a backcountry permit to camp. Based on these actions or lack of actions, he was issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition.

Park rangers remind anyone planning to climb in the Teton Range to be prepared for the alpine environment with appropriate skills, abilities and equipment. Grand Teton National Park Chief Ranger Michael Nash said, “The altitude and difficulty of the terrain can be overlooked by many.” He highly encourages anyone attempting to climb within the park to visit the Jenny Lake Ranger Station to have a conversation with park rangers concerning the planned route of travel, as well be physically conditioned for the altitude. Nash said, “As one of our rangers commented, ‘the Teton Peaks demand respect from all of us’.”

On Wednesday, August 10, rangers also responded to a 57-year old female from Jackson that injured her shoulder. She was hiking in Garnet Canyon on the Surprise Lake Trail when she stumbled and injured herself. Rangers responded by hiking to her location with a litter, prepared to carry her out. She was able to hike out on her own after medical treatment from rangers.

As expected, this year has been quite busy at the park. Park staff has responded to over 200 emergency medical incidents this calendar year, seven of which recently happened within one 24-hour period. These incidents range from sprained ankle or minor bee stings, to breathing difficulty, heart attack, stroke and serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The park operates and staffs three ambulances during the summer months, and works cooperatively with St. John’s Medical Center.


from the NPS morning report

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

Two Backcountry Rescues Conducted On Same Day

Two different backcountry users – one a climber with serious injuries and the other a hiker suffering physical exhaustion – required separate late day rescue missions involving multiple rangers and helicopters on Sunday, June 29th.

At the time the two mountain rescues got underway, rangers were also summoned by Teton County Search and Rescue to assist with a search for missing boaters from an accident on the Gros Ventre River, just east of the park’s boundary.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the first emergency call at 5:55 p.m. from two hiking partners of Xabier Aguirregoicoa, 39, of Spain. Aguirregoicoa’s companions reported that their friend was exhausted and physically unable to either continue walking out of Granite Canyon (a distance of 12 miles) or hike back upslope to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram from where their backcountry trip began.

In the first couple of miles, the hiking party missed the snow-covered trail and instead, dropped down a steep intermittent snow and loose rock slope into a rugged area of large boulders and talus. Aguirregoicoa’s partners retraced their route over hard and crusty snow to reach the top of Rendezvous Mountain and make their call for help. They also provided GPS coordinates for Aguirregoicoa’s location, which greatly facilitated the rescue operation.

A Teton Interagency contract helicopter was dispatched to an area just below Cardiac Ridge in upper Granite Canyon with two park rangers on board. Despite erratic winds, the ship was able to land on a patch of snow near Aguirregoicoa. He was assisted across the snowfield to the waiting helicopter for an evacuation to Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache, where rangers assessed his overall health and released him.
Aguirregoicoa was not adequately prepared for the snowy conditions that persist in this area of Granite Canyon. He wore just light hiking shoes and carried only hiking poles, where conditions demanded sturdy hiking boots and ice axes for safer travel.

Shortly after the first alert, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a second emergency call at 6:30 p.m., reporting an injured climber on the east flank of the 11,618-foot Disappointment Peak. Angela Lazarte, 27, of Jackson, Wyoming and her partner were climbing in the Lake Ledges area above Amphitheater Lake when she slipped and tumbled over snow and rock before coming to rest in a snow moat near the base of the cliff.

A second Teton Interagency contract helicopter flew six park rangers to provide emergency medical care and make preparations for a short-haul evacuation. To assist with the rescue, four additional rangers hiked to Amphitheater Lake (9,750 feet) from the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache.

High winds ultimately prevented the helicopter from completing a short-haul evacuation. Instead, rangers resorted to placing Lazarte into a rescue litter and lowering her over steep, snow-covered slopes until they could carry her via wheeled litter—a distance of five miles—over an intermittent snow-covered and rocky trail to the Lupine Meadows trailhead. The rescue operation took over 10 hours to conduct; it did not conclude until 5 a.m. Monday, June 30th. A park ambulance met the rescuers and transported Lazarte to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further care. Lazarte was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, which may have prevented a head injury.


from the NPS morning report

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Stranded Hiker Rescued From Park’s High Country

On November 10th, rangers learned that a solo backcountry hiker was overdue from a hike to an unknown location somewhere within the park. Steve Frazier had begun what he’d planned to be a five day trip in perfect weather on October 28th. Over the next three days, Frazier hiked more than 20 miles into the heart of the park’s wilderness. He set up camp at an elevation of 9,700 feet near Red Devil Lake as snow began falling on the evening of October 30th. This was the first significant storm of the developing winter season and it continued for three days, blanketing the High Sierra under nearly two feet of snow. The snow obscured the trail Frazier had been following, effectively trapping him at that location. He spent the next twelve days hunkered down in his tent, hoping to be rescued and rationing his remaining two days of food. Since Frazier had not told anyone of his plans, though, the rescue was long in coming. It was only after a list of missed commitments and appointments began to accumulate (including a missed plane flight home on November 9th), that questions regarding his whereabouts began to arise. Amazingly, searchers spotted the missing hiker and his camp from the air on their very first pass over the area and soon contacted a very happy Frazier, who was in remarkably good shape for someone who’d had almost no food for 12 days. Frazier made some initial bad decisions, particularly in his failure to leave a detailed route plan with someone who could report him overdue on an agreed-upon date, but made better decisions when the storm hit. He’d attempted to hike out, but didn’t go far before he realized that it was too difficult in deep snow and that he’d likely get into more trouble. So he stayed in his tent, rationed his food, stomped out an “SOS” in the snow, used his pot as a shovel to keep a clear area around the tent, and above all kept a positive attitude. [Submitted by Keith Lober, Emergency Services Coordinator]


from the NPS daily report

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)

Hiker’s Body Found After Extended Search

A three-day search for a missing hiker culminated on Wednesday morning with the discovery of his body about a mile from the Kautz Creek trailhead. David Ossman, 45, of Mukilteo, Washington, evidently arrived in the park on Monday morning for a day hike. He was not planning to be out overnight and was dressed lightly in blue jeans, a flannel shirt and a jacket. Conditions were wet, with temperatures in the 30s and several feet of snow on the ground. Ranger Dan Camiccia found Ossman’s car parked at Kautz Creek late on Monday. When he investigated further, he found that his wife had reported him missing that afternoon. With daylight dwindling, there was time for only a cursory check of the area. A search was mounted the next day and by Wednesday morning had expanded to include more than 20 park staff and volunteers, with two dog teams assisting from German Shepherd Search Dogs of Washington. Rangers found and followed a single set of tracks to an elevation of 4,200 feet. The tracks then descended east of the trail to about 3,000 feet, where Ossman’s body was found. [Submitted by Lee Taylor, Information Officer]


from the NPS daily report

Zion National Park (UT)

Rescue of Injured Canyoneer

On August 20th, the park received word of a climbing accident requiring a rescue operation. A 32-year-old canyoneer was down-climbing a short drop in Englestead Canyon when a 100-pound rock peeled off and landed on his sandal-clad foot. The canyoneer suffered a mostly amputated big toe along with several foot fractures. The experienced members of his group completed the route and reported the injury to Zion dispatch, leaving three inexperienced and unprepared canyoneers with the victim.

The Englestead Canyon route begins in Kane County, outside Zion National Park, and is completed within the park boundary. The route involves about 10 rappels, including a 300-foot rappel to enter the canyon. The park consulted with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and agreed to conduct the rescue.

The victim was found a quarter-mile outside the park during a recon flight. Rescuers were flown to the rim of the canyon and park medic Kevin Killian was lowered 600 feet to his location. Killian and the patient were raised to the rim during the night. The rim of the canyon was ledgy and choked with oak brush, so a short haul was completed with the Grand Canyon short haul team on the morning of August 21st. The patient was delivered to a hospital in late morning. Two rangers assisted the three unprepared canyoneers through the remainder of the canyon. [Submitted by Ray O’Neil, IC ]


from the NPS daily report of Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)
Climbers Rescued

A group of seven military service members from Fort Lewis Army Base in Washington began a hike up Knapsack Pass in the Mowich Lake area at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 2nd.

Two members of the party decided to reach the summit by climbing a rock face south of the pass. While on their way up, one of them fell about 60 feet to the talus slope below him and rolled another 100 feet down the slope. He sustained head, back and neck injuries. His partner became stranded on the rock face.

Another member of the group hiked back to Mowich Lake and called dispatch to summon help. Rangers joined him and were lead back to the scene of the incident. They stabilized the injured 19-year-old with the assistance of an Army medic who had been lowered to the scene; the victim was then flown to Harborview Hospital by a MAST helicopter from Fort Lewis.

Rangers next turned their attention to the stranded climber, who was perched on a small ledge/overhang, dressed in only a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers on a night when temperatures were forecast to drop into the high 30s or low 40s. Rangers climbed to his location, set up an anchor station, and lowered him to safety in the dark using headlamps. He and the rest of his party were escorted to Mowich Lake trailhead.

None of the members of the group was properly equipped for hiking or climbing ­ they had no overnight provisions, no first aid kits, and no climbing gear ­ and none had any climbing experience. The IC for the rescue was Paige Ritterbusch; participating were rangers Jim Hull, Molly Burns, Scott Bagocious, Geoff Walker and Uwe Nehring and VIP’s Tim Osburn, Cheryl Chillman, Tyler Chillman and Tyson Nehring. [Submitted by Uwe Nehring]


Yosemite National Park (CA)
Search for Lost Hiker

from the NPS daily report Thursday, September 30, 2004

Judy Brower, 61, of Aptos, California, hiked to Half Dome on September 19th as part of a large, loosely organized group of sponsored hikers for a charity. While descending, she got off the trail somewhere below the shoulder of the dome and was last seen about 1:00 p.m. during an unseasonable early snow storm. Brower was not equipped to spend the night out in cold conditions. A large scale search was started in the late morning under clearing skies when Brower was reported overdue. Searchers found her in the Lost Lake area on the back (south) side of Half Dome within two hours of the initial report. When she was picked up by the park’s fire management helicopter, she was moderately hypothermic, tired and hungry. About 20 minutes after she was rescued, a second snow storm swept through the area. [Submitted by Leslie Reynolds, IC]


Yosemite Climbing Ranger John Dill said:

“No Yosemite climber has died from heat, but a half-dozen parties have come close. Too exhausted to move, they survived only because death by drying-up is a relatively slow process, allowing rescuers time to get there.”


Three Distressed Hikers Rescued Tuolumne Meadows Area
June 12, 2016 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On June 5, 2016, three young male hikers from Florida started hiking from Tenaya Lake (Sunrise Lakes trailhead) and established a base camp 2.5 miles into their hike. On Monday morning, they hiked back out to Tuolumne Meadows to obtain a Half Dome permit in addition to their wilderness permit. The trip to the frontcountry added miles and effort to their day while subtracting available daylight; it was noon before they returned to basecamp and started off for Half Dome.

At the Forsyth/Clouds Rest trail junction, the group lost the trail due to snow and unintentionally took the Forsyth trail down toward the John Muir Trail. They eventually righted themselves and summited Half Dome via the cables.

It was on their return to base camp when their long day, accumulated miles, and high elevation begin to take their toll. First, they only had three liters of water, which wasn’t enough. Although they bought three LifeStraws (water filtration method), they only took one on their Half Dome hike and it malfunctioned. Due to the potential for water-borne illness, they were reluctant to drink from local water sources and they had no means to melt snow. Eventually, they ate some snow (but snow has low water content).

Before they reached their base camp near Sunrise Lakes, the sun set and they were thirsty and exhausted. Lacking a light, they spent the night on the trail, ill-equipped for an overnight stay in the high Sierra. That evening, June 6, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received an incomplete 911 report of three hikers 1.5 miles up the Forsyth trail and in need of water. Cell service in the area is poor. A second 911 call of poor cell quality indicated the party began hiking from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead, which led to confusion that the party was 1.5 miles up the Sunrise Lakes trail, but broken communications prevented confirmation of their location. Due to incomplete phone calls, the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center notified Yosemite Search and Rescue of a party of three, 1.5 miles from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead, either out of water or having difficulty with a water crossing.

At 10:45 pm, a hasty team reached the Sunrise-Clouds Rest trail junction but did not locate the party. During this time, the hikers continued to make 911 calls and some successful text messages to family members, which were relayed to the park.

By Tuesday morning, a major ground search was initiated, including several ground teams and the park’s helicopter. With a major search underway, command staff located the group’s wilderness permits, including a Half Dome permit.

The park’s helicopter located a party of three. A wilderness team found the hikers’ tent on a knoll above the Sunrise Lakes-Clouds Rest trail junction, at which point the hiking party walked into camp.

All three were exhausted, cold, and tired from sleeping on the ground. Otherwise, no medical treatment was required. A SAR team escorted the party out to the trailhead. In truth, they would have made it safely out without assistance but they learned some valuable lessons.

What Went Right

The hiking party obtained the necessary permits. Although permits are used to manage wilderness use, permits can be useful for obtaining information if a hiking party becomes lost or has other difficulties.

The hikers came to their base camp well equipped and they did do some planning.

After darkness set in, the hikers accepted their reality and did not try to force a solution by groping around in the darkness hoping to find their camp. Walking around in darkness increases the likelihood of losing the trail or falling off a cliff.

When problems began to overtake them, the party stayed together. This increased the probability for a good outcome, likely kept up their morale, combined judgment, and kept the search uncomplicated.

Lessons Learned

When planning a hike of any length, always consider the level of effort involved and equip yourself accordingly. Determine not only distance, but elevation gain, which reduces speed while increasing fatigue and the need for additional water and nutrition. Also—and this was a huge factor here—determine how much daylight you’ll need to accomplish your goal. A good topographical map and knowing how to read it is invaluable for calculating things such as distances, travel time estimates, elevation changes, and the effort necessary to accomplish one’s goals.

High elevation always needs to be considered when estimating effort. These hikers came from Florida (sea level) and began hiking above 8,000 feet. At the least, this increases fatigue and dehydration. Heartrate and respirations increase with elevation even with healthy, well-conditioned hikers.

Although generally adequately equipped, this was not the case on the intended day trip to Half Dome. Always carry your 10 essentials even on short day hikes and side-trips. The 10 essentials are for unplanned events, like this one, and not reaching your destination before dark is a good example. In this case, the group didn’t have a light; it turned out they stalled only one mile from their basecamp, an easy distance to cover if each hiker had their own headlamp.

In summary, always make adequate preparations and carry more than you will need. Never depend on cell phones, especially in the wilderness. In this case, the cell phone did have some value but always ask yourself what you’ll do if you need help and don’t have a cell signal.


from a Grand Canyon press release

July 14, 2005

Man Collapses and Dies on Bright Angel Trail

“Grand Canyon, AZ – A 28-year old man collapsed and died on the Bright Angel Trail yesterday at approximately 5:00 p.m. Avik Chakravarty from England and a hiking companion started a rim to river to rim hike yesterday at approximately 7:30 a.m. The two started their hike on the South Kaibab Trail and had hiked to Phantom Ranch near the Colorado River. At Phantom Ranch they talked with a National Park Service (NPS) Interpretive Ranger and were advised not to begin their hike to the rim until later in the evening due to the extreme temperatures. The temperature at Phantom Ranch in the shade yesterday was reported to be 113 degrees.
Despite the advice the two hikers began hiking back to the South Rim on the Bright Angel Trail by mid to late-afternoon yesterday. They were approximately three miles north of Phantom Ranch in an area known as Devil’s Corkscrew when Mr. Chakravarty collapsed. His hiking partner then hiked up to Indian Garden, which is located approximately two miles north of where Chakravarty collapsed, to report the incident. He arrived at approximately 5:30 p.m.
National Park Service Search and Rescue Rangers arrived on scene at approximately 6:00 p.m. Mr. Chakravarty had already passed away…

Park Rangers suspect Mr. Chakravarty died from heat related illness.”


from a Grand Canyon press release

July 14 , 2004

Death of Canyon Runner Ruled Accidental

Grand Canyon, AZ – The death of Canyon runner Margaret L. Bradley, 24, has been determined by the Coconino Country Medical Examiner to be accidental – dehydration due to environmental heat exposure.

Ms. Bradley, a Chicago resident, and a companion began a ‘day run’ from the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park at the Grand View Trailhead on Thursday, July 8, 2004. The duo started their run sometime mid-morning and had planned on running from the Grand View Trailhead across the Tonto Plateau and back to the rim using the Kaibab Trail, a 27-mile trip. Sometime mid-afternoon on Thursday, the two ran low on water. At that point Ms. Bradley and her companion decided to separate – she then attempted to make it down to Phantom Ranch near the Colorado River to locate water. After spending the night in the canyon, Ms. Bradley’s companion, who was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, hiked back out of the canyon with assistance from a U.S. Geological Survey employee who had been working in the area. Believing Ms. Bradley had continued on to Phantom Ranch, her companion had left word at the Ranch that he had abandoned his hike, but would shuttle her car back to the South Kaibab Trailhead for her return trip to Flagstaff.

After failing to meet her family in Flagstaff on Friday, July 9, she was reported missing to the Flagstaff Police Department. The National Park Service began searching for Ms. Bradley after being contacted by the Flagstaff Police Department and the woman’s family early Saturday morning. Park rangers located the body of Ms. Bradley in a drainage known as Cremation below the Tonto Trail shortly after launching an aerial search.
Temperatures at Phantom Ranch on July 8 were 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in the Cremation drainage were likely in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “This is a tragic reminder that even the most physically fit person can run into trouble in the inner canyon during summer months when temperatures are extreme,” stated Ken Phillips, Search and Rescue Coordinator for Grand Canyon National Park. He added, “It’s important to know the environment, the hazards of that environment and to prepare for the unexpected.” Ms. Bradley had been featured as an athlete of the month in a Chicago Athlete Magazine article recently and was in excellent physical condition.
“Backcountry users can easily get into trouble when the combination of distance traveled, elevation, temperature, and direct sunlight occurs. The combination can overwhelm your body’s ability to keep itself cool, fueled, and hydrated,” stated Phillips, adding “the timing of a hike is one of the most important factors in avoiding the hazards of summer hiking. Hiking in the early morning or late afternoon shade will greatly enhance your enjoyment of your hike and dramatically reduce the danger of hiking in direct sunlight. Running in the inner canyon during the months of June, July and August is not recommended. A more sensible time to attempt an inner canyon run is in the fall months. It is also important to go equipped for the type of activity you are planning.”


from the National Park Service Morning Report Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Pinnacles National Monument (CA)
Dehydration Fatality

On the afternoon of September 23, park staff responded to a report of two people suffering from dehydration on the High Peaks trail on the park’s east side. Glenn Hannon, 83, and his wife, Betsy Hannon, 79, had begun their hike from the Moses Spring parking lot at 8:30 a.m. The hike brought them to the Scout Peak area, a trek that includes a 1,300-foot elevation gain over about two miles. The mid-day high temperature hit 106 degrees, and the Hannons had only a soda and a small snack over the course of the day. At 3:30 p.m., a visitor contacted rangers and told them that two elderly people were suffering heat problems on the High Peaks trail. Ranger Kyle Johnson accompanied him up the trail. They first encountered Glenn Hannon, who was in stable but serious condition, then continued another half mile up the trail to Betsy Hannon. Within a few minutes of their arrival, she went into cardiac arrest and Johnson began CPR. Ranger Eduardo Alfaro had meanwhile reached Glenn Hannon and begun treating him for severe heat exhaustion and preparing him for evacuation. California Division of Forestry personnel joined the rangers and began assisting with evacuation and medical care. After over an hour of no cardiac function, medics and life flight nurses were able to temporarily restore Betsy Hannon’s pulse, but she succumbed during her flight to the hospital. Glenn Hannon was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was treated and released in the evening. Nineteen park staff members from all divisions participated in the operation. This was the second major heat-related case in the park within three weeks.
[Submitted by Neal Labrie, DR, East District, PINN]


NOAA lightning sign: sign that says when thunder roars, go indoors

The description in the Jackson Hole News and Guide of lightning bolts hitting climbers

“I see this blue-green ball coming down the rope at me, it was the size of a beachball, then boom, it hit.”

can be found at:


From the National Park Service Morning Report of

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Gateway National Recreation Area

Man Struck By Lightning In Sandy Hook Unit

Rangers in the Sandy Hook Unit received a 911 report concerning two people struck by lightning at Beach Area B from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office on the afternoon of August 1st. A storm had quickly blown into the area, bringing hail, rain and lightning to the bay and ocean beach areas. The day had been clear and sunny up to that time, so visitation was high. Rangers found family members unsuccessfully attempting CPR on a man who’d evidently been hit by lightning. They took over and were soon joined by NPS firefighters, lifeguards and EMT’s. An AED was utilized on the man, who was then taken by Sea Bright First Aid to Monmouth Medical Center, where he remains in serious condition. A search was conducted for the second reported victim, but rangers soon determined that only one person had been hit. Rangers were assisted by county detectives in the ensuing investigation.


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IN)

Three Visitors Injured In Lightning Strike

On the evening of July 18th, a line of severe thunderstorms moved across northern Indiana. In addition to heavy rainfall, the storms brought an average of 2300 lightning strikes per hour. One of these lightning strikes found a target in the Dunewood Campground and injured three Canadian visitors. The bolt left an impact crater one foot in diameter adjacent to their tent. From the evidence at the scene, the lightning moved from the crater to the nearest corner peg of the tent, which was about a foot away. Once inside the tent, the lightning sliced across the floor, through an umbrella and out the next tent peg, leaving a burned/melted path behind. The path of the lightning was less than two inches from the family of three inside the tent. The lightning exited the tent and apparently ended at the campers’ car, as all of the electrical components were found inoperable the next day. The bolt affected all three family members. The five-year-old child temporarily stopped breathing. While the mother started CPR, the father obtained help from other campers. After a short time, the child began breathing on his own. Rangers, county deputies and EMS personnel responded to the incident. All three family members were transported to a local hospital for observation. They were released the next day. [Submitted by Mike Bremer, Chief Ranger]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Lightning Injures Several Visitors at Old Faithful

Several visitors were injured when a lightning strike hit the ground in front of Old Faithful Geyser on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 21st. Visitors were on the boardwalk in front of Old Faithful Geyser, waiting for an eruption, when the incident occurred. The lightning strike did not hit anyone directly, but did hit about 15 yards in front of the geyser’s boardwalk, located a short distance from the Old Faithful Visitor Center. A 12-year-old park visitor was seriously injured. Two physicians and a nurse practitioner, who were visiting the park and also waiting for the eruption, were able to immediately provide CPR and resuscitate the young boy. Park staff immediately responded to the area and were able to provide additional care. The boy was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for additional care. Ten other visitors received immediate care and evaluation. Some of them went to Old Faithful Clinic for additional care. At the time of the incident, a very intense storm cell was moving through the area, producing rain and hail as well as additional lightning strikes in and out of the area. The incident is still under investigation, and there are no further details available at this time.
[Submitted by Public Affairs]


from a Grand Canyon press release

June 16, 2005

California Man Dies After Being Struck By Lightning

Grand Canyon, AZ – A California man visiting the Grand Canyon on Saturday, June 11, was struck by lightning as he was walking along the west rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Ben Bernal a 55 year old man and another visitor, a 47 year old female also from California, were standing close to a tree when both were struck by lightning. Both received injuries and were treated at the scene by park rangers before being transported to Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

According to park rangers who responded to the scene, it appeared that lightning had hit the tree that both visitors were standing close to before the lightning struck them.The female victim suffered burns to her legs and chest and was transported by ground ambulance to the hospital. Bernal suffered critical injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to Valle, Arizona then by air ambulance to the Flagstaff Medical Center. Incoming storms prevented evacuation by air from the Park.

Bernal passed away early this morning from his injuries.
Lightning strikes are common on the South Rim of Grand Canyon. This is a tragic reminder that lightning strikes can be very dangerous. Visitors are reminded to stay away from exposed rim areas during thunderstorms. The safest place during a storm is inside a vehicle with the windows closed or inside a building. It is also important to remember that when in or near a storm avoid touching anything metal.
Hair standing on end is a sign that an electrical charge is building near you and a warning that lightning may strike. If this occurs, park rangers advise to move away from the rim immediately.

below, a NPS photo of the tree hit by lightning:

NPS tree struck by lightning:


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Thursday, August 3, 2000
Yellowstone NP (WY) – Lightning Strike with Multiple Injuries

Park dispatch received a 911 call at 10:45 p.m. on August 1st reporting that lightning had hit a large lodgepole pine between two campsites at Bridge Bay and that 13 campers had been injured. A ranger in the area was on scene within minutes. Three of eight people in tents at the campsite located closest to the lightning strike were transported to Lake Hospital and treated for minor injuries; two of five campers who had been sitting by their campfire at a second site were treated at the scene and refused additional medical attention. One said that he was knocked off his feet by the strike. All 13 reported that they felt electricity from the lightning run through their bodies. The entire rear and side windows of a vehicle parked near one of the campsites were blown out, and a 40-foot section of the tree landed inches away from a tent occupied by three visitors. Additional debris from the strike was scattered in a 50-foot radius around the point where the lightning hit. [Public Affairs, YELL, 8/2]

you might want to read Thunderstorm and lightning safety



nps drawing bears: drawing of a black bear and a grizzly for comparisonPhotos and notes about how to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear are at: Rocky Mountain mammal size comparisons

bear spray says purchase bear pepper spray not personal defense or law enforcement spray

Bear spray use is not allowed in many parks, but highly recommended in many.



Can menstruating women camp or backpack around bears? YES Camping solutions for women

From 1892 to 2020, bear-caused human fatalities in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks and surrounding national forests:
chart of bear fatalities

NPS chart depicting bear -cause injuries and fatalities in Yellowstone National park

Bear Inflicted Human Injuries and Fatalities in Yellowstone includes:

Bear-Caused Human Fatalities

During the 145-year (1872-2015) history of Yellowstone National Park, eight people have been killed by bears in the park. More people in the park have died from drowning, burns (after falling into thermal pools), and suicide than have been killed by bears. To put it in perspective, the probability of being killed by a bear in the park (8 incidents) is only slightly higher than the probability of
being killed by a falling tree (6 incidents),
in an avalanche (6 incidents),
or being struck and killed by lightning (5 incidents).

August 2015 – a day hiker, hiking by himself, was killed by an adult female grizzly bear with two cubs near the Elephant Back Loop Trail in the Lake Village

August 2011 – a day hiker, hiking by himself, was killed by a grizzly bear on the Mary Mountain Trail in Hayden Valley.

July 2011 – a day hiker in a party of two was killed by an adult female grizzly bear with 2 cubs on the Wapiti Lake Trail in Hayden Valley.

October 1986 – a photographer was killed by an adult female grizzly bear near Otter Creek in Hayden Valley.

July 1984 – a grizzly bear killed a backpacker in a backcountry campsite located at the southern end of White Lake near Pelican Valley.

June 1972 – an old adult female grizzly bear killed a man in an illegally established camp. The man surprised the bear when he returned to his campsite at night. The bear was in his camp feeding on food that he had left out unsecured in the campsite.

August 1942 – a bear killed a woman at night in the Old Faithful campground. The species of bear involved was not determined.

1916 – a grizzly bear killed a man in a roadside camp.

A possible fatality supposedly occurred in 1907 when a man was attacked by a female grizzly bear after he prodded her cub with an umbrella. The account of the incident appeared in a popular book, “Book of a Hundred Bears” published in 1909 by F.D. Smith. However, the validity of this incident is questionable as there is no mention of it in official park reports or local newspapers from 1907. The “Book of a Hundred Bears” contains many stories without providing back-up documentation. The 1907 story appears to be an unsubstantiated legend.”

sign yield to wildilfe bears drawing: sign be bear aware in shape of footprint: sign warning bear frequenting area: sign be bear aware tetons:

grizzly warning sign: bear damage common sign: NPS sign closed bear danger: sequoia bear warning sign:


From a news release dated: October 7, 2021 :

Illinois woman charged in Yellowstone case involving a grizzly receives four days in federal custody and fines

“Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced today that (name removed) age 25 of Carol Stream, Illinois, pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. The other count, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife, was dismissed. (name removed) appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming on October 6, 2021, for her change of plea and sentencing hearing. She was sentenced to four days in custody, one-year unsupervised probation, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $1,000 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 court processing fee and a $10 assessment. (name removed) also received a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park.

According to the violation notices, (name removed) was at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park on May 10, 2021, when visitors noticed a sow grizzly and her three cubs. While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, (name removed) remained. She continued to take pictures as the sow bluff charged her.

“Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are, indeed, wild. The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why (name removed) is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.”

According to Yellowstone National Park regulations, when an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity. . .

This case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park Rangers and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.”


and see Safe distances from wildlife

From Yellowstone national Park

July 25, 2019

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Park staff have had a busy summer responding to bears in campgrounds, backcountry campsites, and along roadsides. Visitors are reminded to stay at least 100 yards away from bears at all times and to store food and scented items properly

Once a bear acquires human food, it loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. This process is called “habituation.” The park has killed two habituated black bears this year and is trying to capture a third. All three bears exhibited bold behaviors, showed no fear around people, and have demonstrated food-conditioned behavior.

Last month, at a backcountry campsite along Little Cottonwood Creek, a black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman’s thigh (the bite did not break the skin due to the tent fabric and thick sleeping bag). Rangers suspect that this might have been a bear that gained access to human food in this same area in previous years. Over subsequent days, rangers set up cameras and a decoy tent at the campsite to determine if the bear would continue this behavior. With rangers present, the bear returned and aggressively tore up the decoy tent. The bear was killed on-site on June 11.

In early July, at a backcountry campsite along the Lamar River Trail, campers left food unattended while packing up gear allowing a black bear to eat approximately 10 pounds of human food. Campers who visited the same campsite the following evening had numerous encounters with the same bear. Their attempts to haze the bear away failed. Rangers relocated multiple campers from the area and the bear was killed on July 10. The incident is still under investigation.

Since July 18, at the frontcountry Indian Creek Campground, a black bear has caused property damage to tents and vehicles in its search for human food. Park staff actively hazed the bear from the campground, but also set up cameras. If the bear returns, managers will take appropriate actions based on the current circumstances, including additional hazing or removal.

These incidents serve as unfortunate reminders that human carelessness doesn’t just endanger people; it can also result in a bear’s death. Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. All of us play a role in keeping both bears and people safe. Learn more about what you can do at go.nps.gov/yellbearsafety.


Yellowstone News Release Date: May 14, 2019

If a bear approaches or touches your car, honk your horn and drive away to discourage this behavior.

On Saturday, May 11, a black bear in the Tower-Roosevelt area put its paws on vehicles.

In May of 2018, a black bear previously fed by people in the Mammoth Hot Springs area approached a vehicle, put its paws on a door and looked into the vehicle’s windows. Also last May, a grizzly bear near Yellowstone Lake went up to a car and played with its antenna.

Bears that grow accustomed to people and view humans as a food source can become aggressive and have to be killed.


Rangers Conduct Investigation into Horse Incident

Date: June 2, 2018

Grand Teton National park News Release

MOOSE, WY—Teton Interagency Dispatch received notification about 8 a.m. this morning, Friday, June 1, that several individuals were injured in a horse incident near the Colter Bay Corral operated by Grand Teton Lodge Company.

Park rangers and a park ambulance responded immediately, as well as Grand Teton Lodge Company employees. Additional park medics and ambulances were requested and responded to the site. Four individuals were injured and transported via park ambulances to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson. Injuries were not life threatening.

An initial investigation indicates that Grand Teton Lodge Company employees were preparing for the opening of their horseback trail rides this weekend when several horses were spooked. Three employees were on horseback and another employee was walking when they were injured. It is believed the horses were spooked by a female black bear with two cubs of the year.

Park rangers are conducting an accident investigation to determine how the incident happened. A temporary closure of the area has been implemented to allow the bears to naturally disperse from the area. It is unknown when horseback trail rides will begin in the Colter Bay area.


Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

Date: September 14, 2017

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – On September 8, 2017, National Park Service biologists captured and killed a bear near Heart Lake in the southern part of Yellowstone National Park. The immature, male grizzly was repeatedly involved in conflicts with humans.

This bear began exhibiting bold behavior around people in 2015. At that time, Wyoming Game and Fish personnel captured the bear, tagged it, and relocated it to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. In 2016, the same bear entered campsites in the Heart Lake area of Yellowstone and destroyed backpackers’ tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. National Park Service staff attempted to change the bear’s dangerous behavior through the use of electric decoy tents, electric food sack decoys, and by hazing with bean bag rounds, rubber bullets, and cracker shells. These efforts failed. Attempts to trap the bear also failed.

Hikers reported observing the bear around campsites and investigating tents in the Heart Lake area in 2017. On the evening of August 26, the bear forced a group of three backpackers out of their campsite near Heart Lake and consumed all of their food. In response, Yellowstone closed the area to backcountry camping on August 27 and set traps for the bear on September 1. The bear was captured and killed on the morning of September 8.

This incident serves as an unfortunate reminder that “a fed bear is a dead bear.” Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. All of us play a role in keeping both bears and people safe. Learn more about what you can do at go.nps.gov/yellbearsafety.


Black Bear Euthanized Due to Safety Concerns

Date: June 28, 2017 MOOSE, WY—For public safety, a female black bear weighing about 125 pounds and believed to be approximately four years old was euthanized yesterday in Grand Teton National Park. The decision to remove the bear from the population was based on recent activities in which the bear exhibited no fear of humans and approached humans, including a couple sleeping in a tent.

Last week there were three reports of a black bear approaching humans and an observation of the bear on the porch of a cabin in the Jenny Lake area. There were no injuries reported with the incidents, but bear spray was deployed in one instance. Park rangers and biologists determined it was the same black bear involved with each incident due to photos taken by bystanders or direct observation. There were no food-storage violations associated with these incidents. Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway are home to black and grizzly bears, and everyone should follow bear safety practices.” He said that bear safety practices are for the wellbeing of the visitor and the bear. At approximately 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, a visitor camping at Jenny Lake Campground woke as he felt something on the other side of his tent. He exited the tent, with bear spray, to investigate what was going on. He saw a cinnamon colored bear approaching the tent from about 20 feet away. The man yelled to his wife to exit the tent. He then deployed his bear spray as they both waved and spoke loudly to chase the bear away. The bear sniffed the tent, and then stood on his hind legs looking at the couple and swatting the tent with damage to the tent. The couple continued to shout encouraging the bear to leave. Suddenly, as if something else scared the bear, the bear turned and ran away.

Other human-bear interactions took place last week with the same cinnamon colored bear in the Jenny Lake area. The bear approached a visitor as he was sleeping in a chair in his campsite, walked onto the porch of a cabin in the area, and closely approached a member of the park’s wildlife brigade. On Wednesday, June 21, park staff searched for the bear and implemented a strategy to trap or immobilize the bear. Efforts continued through Tuesday morning, June 27, when the bear was successfully trapped. Due to the bear exhibiting no fear of humans, making contact with an occupied tent and repeated incidents, the bear was removed from the population. Black bears are not good candidates for zoos and other accredited facilities due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States. Park visitors are reminded that all campgrounds and developed areas should be clean and free of trash and food. Park regulations require that all edibles, food containers and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food storage locker when not in use, day or night. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking and have bear spray readily accessible and know how to use it. For more information about recreating in bear country, please visit https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/bearsafety.htm.


Visitors Use Bear Spray & Deter Bear Encounter

Yellowstone National Park, Oct 17 (2016?)

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – After surprising and then being charged by a grizzly bear, a couple fishing along the Lamar River effectively deployed their bear spray and saved themselves from injury on Saturday, October 22.

John and Lisa Vandenbos from Bozeman, MT, parked at a pullout near the Specimen Ridge trailhead in the Lamar Valley, east of Tower Junction. They walked cross-country to the Lamar River and, while scouting for fishing spots, surprised an adult grizzly bear who was feeding on a partially consumed carcass. The bear immediately charged the couple and came within nine feet when both individuals quickly discharged their bear spray.

The bear initially left. When attempting to charge the couple again, it ran into the original cloud of bear spray. Upon making contact with the cloud, the bear retreated all the way back across the river and up the adjacent hillside “as fast as it could go”. The couple did not sustain injuries and bear spray stopped the charging bear.

The couple left the area immediately and returned to their vehicle. They then reported the incident to a park ranger. Park rangers do not intend to search for the bear since this incident was a surprise encounter with a bear defending its carcass.

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country. Reduce your risk of a bear encounter by carrying bear spray. Studies show that bear spray is more than 90 percent effective in stopping an aggressive bear. In fact, it is the most effective deterrent when used in combination with regular safety recommendations —be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, do not run if you encounter a bear and stand your ground if charged by a bear.

“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about preserving bears and observing them in the wild,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s Bear Management Specialist. “Carrying bear spray is the best way for visitors to participate in bear conservation because reducing potential conflicts protects both people and bears.”


Berry Picker Surprises Bear In Swiftcurrent Valley (Glacier National Park)

August 29, 2016

Visitors reminded to follow Bear-Safety protocols.

WEST GLACIER, MONT –A park employee, while off duty picking huckleberries in the Swiftcurrent valley, surprised what is believed to be a grizzly bear. She sustained non-life threatening injuries to the leg and the hands. The surprise encounter which led to a non-predatory attack occurred on Saturday, August 27 in the early evening hours, a quarter mile off the Swiftcurrent Pass trail near Red Rock Falls, and reported to dispatch at 7:15 p.m. The park employee walked most of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail back before she was met by park rangers. She was then transported by Glacier county EMS to Browning for further treatment and evaluation. She was carrying bear spray but it was not deployed. Hikers reported a grizzly bear sow and two cubs leaving the area shortly after the incident.

The last visitor injury by a grizzly bear was on September 29, 2015 when a 65-year old male hiker surprised a sow grizzly with two sub-adult cubs, receiving puncture wounds to his lower leg and injuries to his hand.

Visitors to Glacier National Park are reminded that the park is home to black and grizzly bears.Bears spend a lot of time eating, so be extra vigilant when crossing through obvious feeding areas like berry patches, cow parsnip thickets, or fields of glacier lilies. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking, and have bear spray accessible and know how to use it.For information on trail closures in the park, please visit


At this time of year, bears are entering a phase called hyperphagia: a period of concentrated feeding to prepare for hibernation. It is especially important that visitors keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Regulations require that all edibles, food containers, and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker when not in use, day or night. Place all trash in bear-proof containers. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter around your camp. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite.

For more information about recreating in bear country, please visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/bears.htm.


from the NPS daily report:

Visitor Bitten by Grizzly Bear in Denali National Park

Date: July 2, 2016

DENALI PARK, Alaska: A visitor was bitten and scratched by a grizzly bear on Friday evening, July 1 while hiking on the Savage Alpine Trail in Denali National Park and Preserve. Twenty-eight-year-old Fangyuan Zhou was hiking with friends when she encountered a small, subadult grizzly bear that bit and scratched her before fellow hikers were able to throw rocks and chase it off.This incident occurred at approximately 7 pm on Friday evening on the west end of the Savage Alpine Trail. Zhou was hiking with two other people when she encountered the bear ¼-mile from the trailhead. Several other hiking groups were also on the four mile trail.

A large group of approximately 10 people had been approached by the bear a short time before Zhou’s encounter, but they were able to scare it off by grouping together, shouting, and waving their arms. This action is exactly what the park encourages hikers to do when they have a close encounter with a bear.

Zhou and her friends had earlier seen the bear on the trail and were making efforts to avoid it. They all played dead when charged by the bear. The bear scratched and bit Zhou then walked away. When it returned several minutes later, a group member threw rocks at the bear, and it ran off. While playing dead is an appropriate response when physical contact with a bear occurs or is imminent, playing dead prematurely can invoke a curiosity response from a bear. Park guidelines do not recommend playing dead prior to contact.

Initial medical care was administered by NPS staff in the area. Zhou chose to self-transport to an Anchorage hospital.The now familiar bear has been photographed by visitors and NPS staff. It has been identified as being involved in several incidents in the Savage area during the last two weeks. Previously, the bear was reported as charging visitors on Savage area trails, and it was successful in acquiring food from a day pack after charging a hiker on the Savage Alpine Trail on June 22. Subsequently, park wildlife technicians used aversive conditioning techniques (bean bags) on the bear with the hope that it was young and impressionable enough to become wary of people. The bear had not been seen during the five-day closure last week.

Park officials have intensified efforts to manage the situation. The erratic behavior of the bear over the past two weeks: approaching and charging several groups of hikers; biting and scratching a hiker;obtaining food from a hiker; and its general interest in people represents an unacceptable risk to safety in the highly visited front country of the park. Park staff will locate and kill the bear as soon as safely possible.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Glacier National Park

Hiker Injured By Grizzly Bear

A hiker on the trail from Many Glacier to Piegan Pass was attacked by a grizzly bear around noon on Friday. The 50-year-old visitor from St. Paul, Minnesota, was hiking by himself when he rounded a bend in the trail and encountered a sow grizzly with a sub-adult grizzly. Although he was carrying bear spray, he was unable to utilize it before the bear attacked. He sustained bites to his left thigh and left forearm before the bear grabbed his foot, shook him, released him, and left the area. The man hiked back toward Many Glacier, encountering a naturalist ranger leading a hike while on the way. The ranger notified dispatch while the man continued to the Many Glacier Ranger Station, where he was treated for his injuries and transported to the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning. The hiker was reportedly making noise as he hiked. The trail from Piegan Pass to Feather Plum Falls is closed at this time, and rangers are investigating the incident.


Date: August 2, 2011


Habituated Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Euthanized

An aggressive, habituated grizzly bear conditioned to human foods was captured and euthanized by Yellowstone National Park staff on Monday morning, August 1.

For the past three years, the 4-year-old, 258-pound male bear had been unsuccessfully hazed at least 25 times from the Lake Village, Bridge Bay Campground and Fishing Bridge developments. On July 30, the bear aggressively approached and then charged at a man sitting along the Storm Point Trail on the north edge of Yellowstone Lake.

The man threw his pack at the bear, which stopped the bear’s charge. However, the bear then tore into the man’s pack and ate the food inside. The sub-adult male bear was healthy and had 14.8% body fat, normal for this time of year.

Due to the bear’s history of associating people with food, repeated visitation to developed areas within the park and numerous unsuccessful hazing attempts, the bear posed a threat to the safety of park visitors. Efforts to relocate food-conditioned bears have also generally proven unsuccessful because the bears simply return to the areas from which they were removed.

Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, coolers and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.

Hikers in bear country are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, carry bear pepper spray, make plenty of noise on the trail, and to be alert for the presence of bears. If a bear charges during a surprise encounter, stand your ground, do not run, and use your bear pepper spray.

Park regulations require that you to stay at least 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense against bear attacks is to stay a safe distance from bears and use your binoculars, spotting scope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

Bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.

July 6, 2011


Yellowstone Visitor Killed By Grizzly Bear

A visitor to Yellowstone National Park is dead after an encounter with a grizzly bear Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred on the Wapiti Lake trail, which is located east of the Grand Loop Road south of Canyon Village.

The husband and wife couple had traveled about a mile and a half in on the trail Wednesday morning when they surprised a grizzly sow with cubs. In an apparent attempt to defend a perceived threat to her cubs, the bear attacked and fatally wounded the man. Another group of hikers nearby heard the victim’s wife crying out for help, and used a cell phone to call 911. Park rangers were summoned and quickly responded to the scene.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this couple’s trip into the Yellowstone backcountry has ended in tragedy,” said Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. “Our heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with their loss.”

The name and hometown of the victim are being withheld pending notification of family members.

Attacks by bears are extremely rare. No visitors were injured by bears in the park in 2010. This is the first bear-caused human fatality in Yellowstone since 1986.

Patrols are underway to clear the area of all backcountry users. All trails and backcountry campsites in the area have been closed until further notice. The incident is under investigation.

A bear warning sign is posted at the Wapiti Lake trailhead, since it is one of the access points to the Pelican Valley area, known for significant bear activity. However, there had been no reports of bear encounters along or near the Wapiti Lake trail this season. There had been no recent reports of animal carcasses along or near the trail. No research trapping of bears has been conducted in Yellowstone National Park this season.

Park visitors are advised to stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, and to be alert for bears and make noise in blind spots. Bear pepper spray has been highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears. It is not yet known if either individual involved in this attack was carrying bear pepper spray.

Hikers and backcountry users are encouraged to check with staff at park visitor centers or backcountry offices for updated information before planning any trips in the Canyon area. Updated information is also available by calling 307-344-2160 during normal business hours.

More on July 7:

Identity Of Bear Mauling Victim Released

A 57-year-old Torrance, California, man has been identified as the victim of a Wednesday morning bear attack in Yellowstone National Park.

Brian Matayoshi, and his wife Marylyn, were hiking Wednesday morning on the Wapiti Lake Trail, which is located off the South Rim Drive, south of Canyon Village and east of the park’s Grand Loop Road.

The couple was hiking west back toward their vehicle. At approximately 11:00 a.m., at a point about a mile and a half from the trailhead, they walked out of a forested area into an open meadow. It appears that the couple spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away and then began walking away from the bear. When they turned around to look, they reportedly saw the female grizzly running down the trail at them. The couple began running, but the bear caught up with them, attacking Mr. Matayoshi. The bear then went over to Mrs. Matayoshi, who had fallen to the ground nearby. The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her. She remained still and the bear left the area.

Mrs. Matayoshi then walked back toward the meadow and attempted, without success, to call 911 on her cell phone. She began to shout for help and was heard by a distant group of hikers who were able to contact 911 by cell phone. Two rangers already in the area on backcountry patrol were contacted by the park Communications Center by radio and responded to the scene of the incident.

Mr. Matayoshi received multiple bite and clawing injuries, and was dead when rangers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Rangers immediately closed the hiking trails in the area. A subsequent helicopter patrol of the area failed to turn up any other hikers or backpackers. This small section of the park’s backcountry is expected to remain closed for several days.

The initial investigation suggests the sow grizzly acted in a purely defensive nature to protect her cubs. This female bear is not tagged or collared, and does not apparently have a history of aggression or human interaction. Typically, the National Park Service does not trap, relocate, or kill a bear under those circumstances. A Board of Review which will include interagency experts will be convened to review the incident.

Bear attacks are extremely rare. No one was hurt by a bear in Yellowstone in 2010. This is the first time a human has been killed by a bear in the park since 1986.
Park visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, and be alert for bears and make noise in blind spots. Visitors are also encouraged to consider carrying bear pepper spray, which has been shown to be highly successful in stopping aggressive behavior in bears. The Matayoshis were not carrying pepper spray.


June 12, 2011, in Wrangell-St Elias Nat’l Park rangers on backcountry patrol used pepper spray to deter a charging mother grizzly after two cubs wandered too close. The “charge was repulsed within a few feet of the rangers.”


June 23, 2007 Grand Teton National Park News Release

Food-Conditioned Black Bear Euthanized for Safety Concerns

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced that park biologists euthanized a male black bear on Friday afternoon, June 22, out of concern for public safety. About 2 p.m. Friday, the three to four-year-old bear pushed against windows at Jenny Lake Lodge and peered into the building before scaling a six-foot fence to get near the kitchen door behind the lodge. The 150-pound bear exhibited little or no concern for nearby people and aggressively bluff charged park rangers who responded to the location after receiving a call about the bear’s unusual activities. In addition, this bear obtained a food reward at a backcountry campsite on Leigh Lake early Friday morning, and on more than one occasion followed people at close range while they were hiking trails around Leigh Lake. Habituation to people and bold behaviorcombined with repeated food rewardsprompted park officials to make the decision to remove this bear from the population and eliminate potential threats to visitors.

Since early spring, the male black bear has been frequenting the trails around Bearpaw, Trapper, and Leigh lakes. He was caught in a trap on June 5, 2007, and a radio-collar placed on him to track his movements; before that time, he was unmarked and uncollared. Previous to Friday’s incident, the bear tore up an unoccupied tent and scratched on a tent while people were sleeping inside. He also investigated a backcountry patrol cabin on Leigh Lake and boldly walked around the porch, showing little interest or unease about park staff who were inside the cabin.

Superintendent Scott said, “We never take the decision to euthanize a bear lightly. It is unfortunate and frustrating that food rewards and habituation to people have caused this bear to become food-conditioned and aggressive. Bears generally pose a safety concern only after they start to associate people and their activities with easily obtained food. It is imperative that all visitors and local residents heed the ‘bear aware’ information posted throughout the park, and take personal responsibility for securing food and other attractants at all times while traveling or camping in bear country.”

Park officials remind all visitors that bears, both black and grizzly are active day and night throughout the park: not only in the backcountry areas but also in high-use locations such as the lodges and campgrounds.

For the safety of other visitors and the health of bears, it is extremely important to properly store food in a vehicle or food-storage boxes provided at campsites, and always dispose of garbage in bear-resistant cans or dumpsters.Never leave food or backpacks unattended, even for a minute.

Once a bear acquires human food, it loses its fear of people and may become bold or aggressive.


NPS Thursday, June 14, 2007

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

Grizzly Attacks And Injures Visitor

Dennis Vandenbos, a 54-year-old resident of Lander, Wyoming, was injured by a grizzly bear around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13th, while walking on the Wagon Road just below the corrals at Jackson Lake Lodge. Vandenbos surprised grizzly bear #399 and her three cubs, who were feeding on a freshly-killed elk carcass. The attack likely resulted from a defensive response by a bear, while protecting its food source. At this time, no adverse action will be taken against the bear involved in this incident. Vandenbos took an early morning walk at approximately 5:30 a.m. and was returning to his room at the lodge when the incident occurred. He reported watching an elk off to his right, then noticing the sow and her cubs approaching to his left, within ten feet of him. Vandenbos yelled, but one of the bears continued toward him; he yelled again, then jumped off the trail and laid on his stomach in a submissive posture. At this point, the bear inflicted puncture wounds and lacerations to Vandenbos before it was frightened off by the shouting of a Lodge Company wrangler who was nearby at the time. The wrangler administered emergency medical assistance to Vandenbos until park rangers arrived on the scene. A park ambulance then transported Vandenbos to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for treatment of his injuries. Park officials have posted closures for the Wagon Road and trails in the Willow Flats area below Jackson Lake Lodge. Signs state that the area is closed due to bears frequenting the vicinity. The Wagon Road and trail closures will likely be in effect until the end of June, during the remainder of the elk calving season. Sow grizzly #399 and her three yearling cubs have been utilizing habitat in and around the Willow Flats area since emerging from hibernation this spring. This bear family has frequently been visible along park roadsides between Colter Bay and the Oxbow Bend turnout of the Snake River, one mile east of Jackson Lake Junction. These are not the only bears in the area; several other bears – black and grizzly – are also utilizing habitat in this location.

This is the first bear incident involving injuries in Grand Teton National Park this year. The last time a grizzly injured a person in the park was in October of 2001, when a hunter from Minnesota surprised a bear on Schoolhouse Hill north of Moran Junction. That same year, a local resident was injured by a grizzly bear in March while backcountry skiing in the Upper Berry Creek area of the park. A previous grizzly-related injury in Grand Teton happened in August of 1994, when a jogger from Utah was attacked on the Emma Matilda Lake Trail. [Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]


from the National Park Service Morning Report of Friday, May 25, 2007

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Montana Man Mauled By Grizzly Bear

Jim Cole, 57, a photographer and author from Bozeman, was injured during an encounter with a bear on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 23rd. Cole was taking photographs of bears along Trout Creek in Hayden Valley when he had an encounter with a grizzly. After being injured, Cole hiked from two to three miles east to the Grand Loop Road, where he was found by visitors around 1 p.m. Rangers and emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and treated Cole’s severe facial injuries. He told rangers that he had been attacked by a sow bear with a cub. He was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone, Montana, then transferred to an Air Idaho helicopter and transported to Eastern Idaho Medical Center in Idaho Falls. Cole has published books on the lives of grizzly bears in Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. This is the second time Cole has been seriously hurt in a bear encounter – he walked out of the backcountry and took himself to the hospital after being injured by a grizzly in Glacier National Park in September 1993.

There were no bear-caused human injuries in Yellowstone National Park during 2006, and there have been only eight minor injuries since 2000. The last bear-caused human fatality in the park occurred in 1986. [Submitted by Public Affairs, Yellowstone National Park]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Aggressive Black Bear Captured, Removed From Canyon Area

Rangers trapped and removed a black bear late Saturday afternoon because its aggressive behavior posed a continuing threat to the safety of park visitors and employees. The bear charged a number of visitors while raiding campsites in Canyon campground on Saturday morning. The adult male bear broke into one vehicle and attempted to break in to several others. At one point, it was observed walking on top of several vehicles in an attempt to gain access to them. The bear was sprayed several times with pepper spray and was hazed repeatedly by park staff in an attempt to get him to move away from people in the campground. Although these efforts failed, the bear eventually left on its own and was seen grazing on clover in a meadow near Canyon Lodge for several hours. Based on the animal’s aggressive behavior, lack of fear of people, and its success at getting human food, the decision was made to capture and remove the bear. As capture operations were being set-up Saturday afternoon, the bear returned to the campground and began rummaging through campsites and acquiring human food from picnic tables, tents, coolers and fire grates. As he entered C Loop, the bear was attracted by an elk hind quarter used as bait and captured in a steel culvert-type trap. The bear was transported to park headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs where, based on his aggressive and threatening behavior, the decision was made to euthanize the animal. His carcass was taken to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lab in Bozeman, Montana for a necropsy.


from the National Park Service Morning Report

September, 2005

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Grizzly Attacks Two Hikers

On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 14th, two men hiking the North Shore Trail along Shoshone Lake in the southern portion of the park were attacked several times by a grizzly. Pat McDonald, 52 of Bismark, North Dakota, and Gerald Holzer, 51 of Northfield, Minnesota, were walking along an established trail toward a backcountry campsite when they noticed fresh bear scat. They decided to continue on to their campsite, but began making noise in an attempt to prevent a possible bear encounter. As they came over a knoll, approximately a quarter mile from where they saw the scat, they were charged by a grizzly at full stride. Holzer, who was walking in front of McDonald, was able to side-step the grizzly. McDonald stepped behind some trees and dropped to the ground. The bear ran by McDonald, but then returned and swatted at him. The bear continued on to Holzer, who had dropped to the ground and was on his stomach, and jumped on his back and swatted at him. The bear then retreated about 50 feet from the men, where they could hear it snorting. From his position on the ground, McDonald began removing the wrist straps from his hiking poles in order to retrieve his bear spray from his waist belt. The bear was apparently drawn back to the site by the noise. This time the bear attacked the hiker’s leg. McDonald managed to retrieve the pepper spray from his waist belt and doused the bear’s face, causing the bear to flee the area.

The men hiked the four miles back to their vehicle at the Delacy Creek trailhead and drove to the Old Faithful Clinic for treatment. Remarkably, neither man was seriously injured. McDonald sustained a puncture wound to his lower left leg and was treated and released; Holzer was not injured, as he was protected by his backpack during the attack. The Delacy Creek, North Shore and Howard Eaton Trails are closed to hiking. Backcountry campsites along the north shore to Shoshone Lake are open to boat access only. [Submitted by Public Affairs]


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Glacier National Park

Visitors Injured in Surprise Encounter with Bears

Two park visitors, a man and a woman, were injured on the morning of August 25th in a surprise close-range encounter with a female grizzly and her two cubs. The hikers reported that they surprised the bear at a distance of approximately five feet. To avoid a continued attack, they apparently rolled off the trail, falling approximately 30 to 50 feet down a steep, rocky area below the trail. This fall may have aggravated their injuries. The incident occurred on the Grinnell Glacier Trail, approximately two miles above the head of Josephine Lake. Due to the nature of the injuries and the steep and difficult terrain, the victims were transported from the scene via helicopter to an area were the helicopter could land and further medical care could be provided. Both were later flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. The Grinnell Glacier Trail was closed immediately after the incident was reported. It will not be reopened until there are two patrols by rangers with no bear sightings, nor any evidence of bear in the area. Other area trails were also temporarily closed for safety concerns; they will be reopened as deemed appropriate. Park rangers, including bear management rangers, are investigating the incident. Park managers will review their findings in the context of the park’s bear management guidelines and determine if any further actions need to be taken. This is the first instance of a bear-related injury this year in the park. [Submitted by Public Affairs]


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Thursday, June 02, 2005

Glacier National Park
Aggressive Beak Killed Following Serious Visitor Threat

An aggressive male black bear was killed by park rangers on the morning of Sunday, May 29th, after it had exhibited predatory behavior towards a family on the previous evening. Around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, John Hayden and his three young sons traveled about a 100 yards into the woods at the pullout a half mile south of Avalanche and encountered a black bear. As the family tried to slowly back out of the area, the bear pursued them. The father tried to distract the bear by throwing a shirt towards it, but the bear shredded this shirt. Although Hayden then struck the bear repeatedly with another shirt, the bear continued its pursuit. After the young children hid under a vehicle, the bear began swiping under the car. Another visitor witnessed the bear’s aggressive behavior and used pepper spray to drive the bear back into the woods. Rangers responded and closed the immediate vicinity for investigation. After consultation with a wildlife biologist and bear management specialists, the bear was targeted for removal. Rangers had previously attempted to move the bear from the roadside by use of rubber bullets and bean bags, but without success. On Sunday, rangers returned to the area and shot and killed the 185-pound male bear. The area was then reopened. Although there is no evidence that the bear was conditioned to human food, the carcass will be sent to a state laboratory for a full forensic autopsy (necropsy).

The park’s bear management guideline states that a black bear will be removed and/or destroyed if it receives human food or garbage, displays conditioned and/or habituated behavior towards people, causes property damage, and/or acts overly familiar with humans. The goal of Glacier’s bear management policy is to ensure a natural and free-ranging population of both grizzly and black bears. “Given this bear’s conditioned, aggressive, and predatory behavior, especially exhibited by swiping under the car, the bear had to be destroyed,” said chief ranger Steve Frye.
[Submitted by Public Affairs Office]


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Denali National Park & Preserve (AK)
Hiker Sustains Minor Injuries in Bear Incident

Joanne Saunders, 52, of Poquoson, Virginia, was injured by a single, adult-sized grizzly bear on Monday, May 23rd, in an incident which took place in the early afternoon in an off-trail area west of the Savage River. She and her husband James, 54, had hiked up the slope along a ridge and were returning to the trail. They took a different route going back and found themselves in heavy brush with poor visibility. They had climbed up on an eight- to nine-foot rock outcropping to survey the area for a better route when they heard the bear as it ran downhill toward them through the six-foot-high vegetation. Snorting as it ran past them, the bear stopped about 20 to 30 feet below them, then turned and charged. The bear leapt up the rock and grabbed Joanne Saunders by the right ankle with its mouth, pulling her down to the ground. She immediately assumed a fetal position, and James Saunders shouted and jumped down to assist his wife. The bear looked up and moved quickly away, disappearing into the brush. The entire attack took place within just a few seconds. The couple made their way up to the ridge, then walked down to the Savage River Check Station, where they reported the incident to the rangers at approximately 3:30 p.m. They were assessed and treated on scene and taken by ambulance to Healy, where they were treated by the local clinic’s physical assistant. Joanne Saunders sustained injuries to her right ankle, bruising on her left side and a broken nose due to the fall from the rock. She was taken to Fairbanks for additional treatment, but was released that night. James Saunders was treated for a sprain to his left ankle that he sustained from the jump off the rock. Wildlife technician Win Staples and rangers Dan Fangen-Gritis and Jeff Caulfield hiked into the area Monday evening to attempt to locate the bear. They did encounter two bears, but neither behaved in an unusual or aggressive manner. A sow grizzly with two yearling cubs has been frequenting the area, but she was not seen. Park managers have temporarily closed the Savage River drainage downstream of the park road to all access. The vehicle parking areas on both sides of the river are closed to use, and hiking trails into the area have been signed with warning notices to prevent entry. The area will remain closed for the next several days as rangers and wildlife management staff monitor the area. This is a popular area for picnicking and day hiking, as it is within the section of the park road that is accessible to private vehicles. [Submitted by Pat Navaille, IC and Kris Fister, IO]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Monday, June 09, 2003

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Closures Due to Bear Incidents

Pebble Creek Campground and West Thumb Geyser Basin are temporarily closed due to bear activity, and bear warnings have been posted in Lamar and Slough Creek backcountry areas. Other restrictions could be implemented as necessary. The closures stem from a pair of incidents. A sub-adult grizzly bear (unknown sex) entered Pebble Creek Campground on Sunday, June 1st, and bounced on an unoccupied tent, crushing the tent to the ground and rolling around on it. The bear then left the area. Owners of the tent were not present during the incident, but the incident was witnessed and reported by other Pebble Creek campers. There were no injuries, and the bear did not obtain any human food. Video footage taken of the bear indicates it could be the same bear park staff unsuccessfully tried to capture last year after receiving several reports of a bear crushing tents and being chased out of backcountry campsites in the Lamar area. Park staff have temporarily closed Pebble Creek Campground (it was only partially open due to high water levels) and are attempting to capture the bear at this time. On the following evening, a woman on the West Thumb Geyser Basin boardwalk had an encounter with a probable grizzly bear (sex unknown). She and her family were touring the basin when they noticed another visitor taking photographs of something in a wooded area. A bear came out of the wooded area and stepped onto the boardwalk in front of the woman, who was in front of her family by a few feet. The woman told rangers that she didn’t see the bear until it was near her. The bear then approached her and stood on its hind legs (it appeared to be between six and seven feet tall) but did not touch her. The woman fell to the ground and kept still. As she was lying on the boardwalk, the bear bit her twice – neither bite breaking the skin – and stood over her for a moment. When the woman’s husband screamed at the bear, it departed the area. The woman declined medical treatment offered by the Park Service on Monday. The West Thumb Geyser Basin has been temporarily closed to evaluate the situation.
[Submitted by Public Affairs]


from the National Park Service Morning Report November 5, 2001
Grand Teton NP (WY) – Bear Mauling

Conrad Smith, 40, of Champlin, Minnesota, was mauled by a sow grizzly bear around 5 p.m. on October 23rd while hunting for elk near Moran Junction. Smith and hunting partner Mark Roy, also from Minnesota, were hunting in the Schoolhouse Hill area when they split up. The two men were about 200 yards from each other when Smith heard a crashing noise and saw a young bear cub running away from him. Seconds later, he heard a louder crashing sound and was charged by an adult bear. Smith went into the fetal position and remained that way until after the attack. He sustained severe puncture wounds, lacerations, and bruising, but his most serious injuries were bite wounds to his head and scalp. After the attack, Smith contacted his hunting partner on a two-way radio, and the two walked out of the area together. He was treated at St. John’s Hospital in Jackson, then flown to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. Investigating rangers determined that this was an unintentionally provoked attack. No management action will be taken against the bear. This was the second grizzly bear mauling in the park this year. [Rich Spomer, Acting CR, GRTE, 11/4]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Yellowstone NP (WY) – Bear Incident

A woman who was jogging by herself in the Lake area received minor injuries when she encountered a bear around 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 26th. Abigail Thomas, a 32-year-old U.S. Post Office employee at Lake, was jogging around the Lake Lodge cabin loop when she encountered a male sub-adult grizzly bear approximately 15 yards to her right. Thomas immediately stopped and stood perfectly still; she did not make eye contact with the bear, and continuously reassured the bear that she was not a threat. The bear stood up on its back legs and sniffed the air, then dropped to the ground and slowly approach Thomas on her right side. When it reached her, it began sniffing her from the waist down, then opened its mouth and – very gently – closed its mouth around Thomas’ right upper thigh. The bear applied a small amount of pressure, then released her leg. Thomas received no injuries, other than some very minor contusions; her skin was not broken from the bite. After Thomas felt the bear release her leg, she reached for her water bottle and squirted the bear between the eyes. The bear immediately ran from the area. Park officials praised Thomas for how well she handled the potentially life-threatening bear encounter, remaining calm and focused throughout the ordeal. [Public Affairs, YELL, 5/30]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

… on the morning of September 26th. A 41-year-old visitor was backpacking along the Snake River trail south of Heart Lake when heard a “whoof” and looked up to see three bears about 30 yards above the trail. As the sow bluff charged, the man slowly and calmly began to leave. The bear hit him from behind, knocking him down, then ran off.

As he started to crawl away, the man heard the bear huffing and curled up into the fetal position with his back to the sow. The bear then batted him twice on the head and once in the shoulder with her paws and bit into the top of his pack several times before running off. He then hiked out to the trailhead.

The man received two small puncture wounds on his head and one on his right shoulder but did not seek medical treatment. Wildlife managers believe the backpacker avoided serious injury by acting passively and non-threateningly during the encounter, by going into the fetal position, and by keeping his pack on his back.

“Yellowstone’s Bear Management Office summaries show that human injuries from black bears have decreased from averages of 45 per year during 1931–1969, to four per year during the 1970s, and less than one (0.2) injury per year from 1980–1999. After 1970, 34 of 44 injuries caused by black bears resulted from visitors getting too close while attempting to feed, take pictures, or get better views of bears.”

To read the whole article go to:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/publications/yellsciweb/issues.htm and click on volumne 11 #1

Info about food storage from black bears, how black bears get into cars, what to do if you see a black bear and more is at: Bears

your safety in grizzly bear territory tells you what to do if you see a grizzly in the distance or if a bear charges you and has info about Bear Pepper Sprays.

Grand Tetons biking includes statistics about cyclist encounters with grizzly bears.

NPS photo mountain lion


The NPS warns: “While mountain lions generally prefer to avoid people, aggressive behavior can be caused by a number of factors including: a mother protecting kittens, a juvenile cat learning what is and is not prey, an older, injured, or ill cat who is stressed for food and approaching non-typical targets in desperation, or a curious cat whose ambush instincts are triggered by human behavior” (such as running).

Yosemite National Park says: “Watch children closely and never let them run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Talk to children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one. Never approach a mountain lion. Don’t run, but hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do all you can to appear larger. Grab a stick. Raise your arms. If you have small children with you, pick them up. If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself. If attacked, fight back!”

From the National Park Service morning report, Friday, January 26, 2007

Redwood National and State Parks (CA)

Mountain Lion Attacks Hiker

On the afternoon of January 24th, a mountain lion attacked one of two adults hiking in the Prairie Creek area of Redwood National and State Parks. The man and his wife were able to fend off the lion after a protracted struggle which included stabbing the lion in the eye with a pen. They then walked out to the roadway where park staff discovered and assisted them. The man had significant wounds and can likely attribute his survival to the presence and actions of his wife. He was transported to the hospital were he underwent reconstructive surgery and is ICU doing well. The area was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. California Department of Fish and Game responded and is investigating along with staff from the parks. [Submitted by Rosie White, Park Ranger]

Read more at:



from the National Park Service Morning Report

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lava Beds National Monument (CA)
Mountain Lion Stalking Incident

At 9 a.m. on May 10th, staff at the visitor center front desk received a cell phone call from Laura Goforth, who reported that she was being stalked by a mountain lion along the Three Sisters trail. The report was forwarded to chief ranger Terry Harris, who responded down the trail to Goforth’s location along with SCA intern Bill Davis. En route, Harris and Davis discovered lion tracks overlying recent hiker tracks. They then heard screaming from inside the wilderness area, came upon Goforth minutes later, and escorted her out of the area. Neither ranger saw the mountain lion, but tracks in the area supported Goforth’s account of what had happened. Goforth, an interpreter from Yellowstone National Park, had taken a day hike into the Lava Beds wilderness. Approximately two miles into the wilderness, she heard something hit the ground behind her. Turning around, she discovered a mountain lion six to ten feet behind her. Following her training, she slowly backed away from the lion down the trail, while using her jacket and day pack to look larger. She kept backing down the trail until the lion stopped following and moved under a large juniper tree. Keeping the lion in sight, she used her cell phone to call for help. Just before the arrival of the ranger staff, the lion moved into the brush out of sight. She kept yelling for the rangers and heard them calling out to her. Goforth then heard a noise behind her and turned to find the lion approximately ten feet behind her. At this point, she began screaming. She was uncertain whether that or the yelling of the rangers caused the lion to turn and run into the brush and lava field. The park has activated its mountain lion management plan and rangers are following up on the incident, attempting to determine if the lion has a den in the area or is possibly sick, which might explain the abnormal behavior. This is the first verified lion stalking incident in several years.
[Submitted by Terry Harris, Chief Ranger]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Thursday, May 15, 2003
Big Bend National Park (TX)
Mountain Lion Attack

On May 13th, a 30-year-old hiker encountered a mountain lion in an open area while hiking the mile-long Chisos Basin Loop Trail. Over a 20-minute period, the lion approached him three times as he backed down the trail away from the animal. He threw stones and shouted at it, but it was not deterred. The lion subsequently attacked him and brought him to the ground. While on the ground, the hiker was able to strike the lion in the head with a rock, ending the attack. He suffered puncture wounds on one leg and one hand, but was able to hike to the Chisos Basin Visitor Center to report the attack. He was treated by a Park Medic and released. The injuries were not serious enough to require transportation to a hospital. Rangers closed the trail system in the Chisos Basin and began a search for the animal. A dog team trained for lion tracking has been brought into the park to assist in locating the animal.
[Submitted by Mark Spier, Chief Ranger]


NPS photo of a bison by Dan Ng: bison looking towards the photographer NPS photo Chevy after collision with a bison: NPS photo Chevy with front end damage after collision with a bison. Yellowstone warning sign do not approach bison: sign danger do not approach wildlife:




From Yellowstone National Park
Woman gored after approaching bison in Yellowstone National Park
June 29, 2020

After a 72-year-old woman from California approached within 10 feet of a bison multiple times to take its photo, the animal gored her.

The incident occurred on the evening of June 25, 2020, at the female’s campsite at Bridge Bay Campground.

Rangers provided immediate medical care to the woman who sustained multiple goring wounds. She was then flown via helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

“The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet,” said Yellowstone’s Senior Bison Biologist Chris Geremia. “Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing, and raising their tail. If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge. To be safe around bison, stay at least 25 yards away, move away if they approach, and run away or find cover if they charge.”




from Yellowstone National Park
Nine-year-old girl injured by bison

Date: July 23, 2019

On the afternoon of July 22, there was an incident with a bull bison near Observation Point Trail in the Old Faithful Geyser area.

According to witnesses, a group of approximately 50 people were within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes before eventually causing the bison to charge the group.
A nine-year-old girl from Odessa, FL was charged and tossed into the air by the bull bison.

The girl was taken to the Old Faithful Lodge by her family where she was assessed and treated by a park emergency medical providers, and later taken to and released from the Old Faithful Clinic.

No citations have been issued. The incident is still under investigation.

Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.



from Yellowstone National Park
Woman gored by bison after crowd gets too close

June 7, 2018

On the morning of June 6, 59-year-old Kim Hancock of Santa Rosa, California, was gored by a bull bison at Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Hancock and a crowd of people approached within ten yards of the bison while walking along a boardwalk. At one point, people were closer than 15 feet from the bison. When it crossed the boardwalk, the bison became agitated and charged the crowd, goring Hancock. The bison immediately left the area.

Rangers responded to the incident and treated Hancock for a hip injury: she was transported by paramedic ambulance to the Big Sky Medical Center in Big Sky, Montana, in good condition.

This incident remains under investigation.

This is the second incident of a bison injuring a visitor in 2018 (previous release: Bison injures visitor at Old Faithful). There was one incident in 2017 and five in 2015.

In a little over a month, four people have been injured by wildlife in Yellowstone.

Animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. Give animals space when they’re near trails, boardwalks, parking lots, or in developed areas. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk. If you can’t maintain these distances, turn around and find an alternate route.




Bison injures visitor at Old Faithful

Yellowstone National park news release

May 2, 2018

On the afternoon of May 1, 72-year-old Virginia Junk of Boise, Idaho, was butted in the thigh by a bison in the Old Faithful area. (It was originally reported that Mrs. Junk was “butted in the thigh, pushed, and tossed off a trail.”)

Junk did not see the animal as she walked around a bend in the trail and wasn’t able to move away before the animal dropped its head and pushed her off the trail.

Rangers responded to the incident and treated Junk’s minor injuries.

Junk was transported by ambulance to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho.

No citations were issued.

This is the first incident of a bison injuring a visitor in 2018. There was one incident in 2017 and five in 2015.

Animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.




National Park Service Calls on Visitors to Respect Wildlife and Safety Regulations

Date: May 16, 2016

In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous, and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf.

Last week in Yellowstone National Park, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare. In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd. These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

In a recent viral video, a visitor approached within an arm’s length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances. Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.




From the NPS Daily report

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Woman Injured In Encounter With Bison

A 43-year-old woman from Mississippi received minor injuries Tuesday when she turned her back on a bison to get a photo with it near the Fairy Falls trailhead. She was the fifth person injured after approaching bison this season.

The woman and her daughter were by the trailhead sign when they decided to take a picture with a bison that was approximately six yards away from them near the trail. When they turned their backs to the bison to take the picture, someone warned that they were too close. They heard the bison’s footsteps moving toward them and started to run, but the bison caught the mother on the right side, lifted her up and tossed her with its head. The woman’s father covered her with his body to protect her and the bison moved about three yards away. The family drove to the Old Faithful Clinic, where the woman was treated and released with minor injuries.

“The family said they read the warnings in both the park literature and the signage, but saw other people close to the bison, so they thought it would be OK,” said Old Faithful District Ranger Colleen Rawlings. “People need to recognize that Yellowstone wildlife is wild, even though they seem docile. This woman was lucky that her injuries were not more severe.”

The park has again reminded visitors that wildlife should not be approached, regardless of how tame or calm they appear. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, visitors must give it a wide berth and not approach it closer than the required minimum distances – 25 yards away from all large animals (bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Bison can run three times faster than humans can sprint and are unpredictable and dangerous. Visitors are advised to give the animals enough space and alter their plans to avoid interacting with an animal in close proximity.

[Submitted by Public Affairs Office]



June 2, 2015

A 62-ear-old man Australian man sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries after an encounter with a bison . . . several people were crowding a bison that was lying on the grass near an asphalt path, when the man approached the bison while taking pictures with an electronic notepad. He got to within 3 to 5 feet of the bison when it charged him, tossing him into the air several times.


from the National Park Service Morning Report, Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

Woman Injured By Bison

A 50-year-old woman from Spain was butted and tossed in the air by a bull bison at Canyon yesterday morning. The woman and her husband were using a pay phone in the Canyon lodging area with their backs to the road. According to witnesses, two bull bison walked down the road, passing within 20 feet of the couple. One of the bison left the road, walked up behind the woman and butted her into the air. The couple, who were facing away from the road, did not see the bison coming. The injured woman was transported to the Canyon Lodge front desk by visitors, then taken by ambulance to the Lake Clinic, where she was released with only minor injuries. Visitors are urged to be aware of their surroundings and to be very cautious around wildlife, as they are unpredictable. Extremely serious injuries or death can result from approaching wild animals too closely or allowing wild animals to approach you even if they appear docile. Park regulations require that a minimum distance of 100 yards be maintained from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other animals. [Submitted by Public Affairs]



Boy Injured By Yellowstone Bison June 27, 2008

A 12-year-old Pennsylvania boy was flipped in the air by a bison near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone this morning.

A mature bull bison, apparently annoyed at the close proximity of the boy, tossed him approximately 10 feet in the air. Witnesses said the boy was posing with members of his family within 1-2 feet of the animal despite repeated warnings from other visitors. The incident occurred just off the trail adjacent to the Uncle Tom’s Trail parking lot along the South Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The bull’s horns did not puncture the boy. The only outward injuries he suffered were abrasions possibly received from hitting the ground after the fall.

Because the boy complained of abdominal pain, he was transported by ambulance to the Lake Clinic and then flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. The name and hometown of the injured juvenile aren’t being released. His current condition is not available.

Visitors are urged to be very cautious around the park’s wildlife. Extremely serious injuries or death can result from approaching wild animals too closely even if they appear docile. Park regulations require that a minimum distance of 100 yards be maintained from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other animals.


from the National Park Service Morning Report Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Yellowstone NP (WY) – Visitor Gored by Bison

A bull bison gored 37-year-old Paul Jocelyn of Albertville, Minnesota, near Old Faithful Lodge on the afternoon of July 13th. Witnesses said that the bison was grazing near the boardwalk that connects the lodge with Old Faithful geyser. A group of visitors approached to within ten to fifteen feet to take pictures of the animal. Jocelyn stepped out from the group and walked around to the front of the bison to see if it would raise its head for a better picture. The bison chased Jocelyn into the trees, picked him up with his horns, and threw him three to four feet into the air. The bison then stared at Jocelyn and the other visitors for several minutes before walking off and resuming grazing. Jocelyn sustained a puncture wound to his inner right thigh and various scrapes and bruises. Rangers provided initial care; he was then taken to Old Faithful Clinic for treatment of his injuries. Criminal charges are pending against Jocelyn for harassing wildlife. No action will be taken against the bison. [Public Affairs, YELL, 7/15]


from the National Park Service Morning Report
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

… on the night of October 6th. A 24-year-old Michigan man who works for the park concessioner was walking back to his dorm at Old Faithful around 11:20 p.m. when he was surprised from behind by a bison. The bison gored him in the rear and lifted him into the air, landing him face down.

He was treated for a two-and-a-half inch puncture wound and received stitches in his face at the Old Faithful Clinic. [Submitted by Office of Public Affairs]


“During the 20-year period from 1980 to 1999, bison injured more of Yellowstone’s visitors than
did any other animal. During this period, bison charged and made contact withhumans 79 times…bison charged
but did not make contact with humans 16times. For comparison, there were 24 bear inflicted human injuries…

Between 1963 and 1974, seven people were gored by bison, including one human fatality in the Lower Geyser Basin
in 1971, when a man was killed instantly while being photographed with a bison. No bison-human incidents were reported from 1966 through 1968, or in 1970, 1973, or 1979 through 1981.

We compiled a detailed summary of bison-human encounters that occurred between 1990 and 1999. In that period, 11
people were thrown into the air by bison for distances of up to 15 feet. One person was thrown against a parked car; one was thrown onto the bison’s back where he was gored a second time as the bison twisted its head; one man was thrown 15 feet into the air, did a flip, and landed in a tree. A photographer lying on the ground was trampled by a charging bison, and told the investigating ranger that the bison then
‘sat’ on him…

Thirty-four reports provided details on what people were doing just before a bison charged. In 10 cases, they had approached to pose with or to photograph bison from distances of from two to 51 feet. Six people were within 10 feet of the bison when it charged. Two people were approaching within 20 feet to have a closer view, and two others were either petting or feeding the bison when it charged. In two other cases, bison charged after sticks or stones were thrown at them. In the 35 cases where the reporting ranger attempted to estimate
the distance between the bison and human when the bison charged, the average distancewas 28.5 feet…

Bison-caused injuries to humans, 1990-1999

a) puncture wounds to the: thigh (7), lower back (2), buttock (2), abdomen (1),
groin area (1), leg (1), side (1), and chest (1);

b) lacerations to the: head (2), and thigh (1);

c) fractured: clavicle (1), humerus (1),and rib (1);

d) abrasion of the: arm (2), thigh (1),knees (1), and groin area (1);

e) injury to: wrist (1), pneumothorax (1), and elbow (1); and

f ) broken: elbow (1), ribs (1), arm (1).

to read the whole article, including Surprise Encounters, go to:

http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/yellowstone-science-issues.htm and click on volumne 11 #1


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from a Yellowstone report:
“Despite their size and seemingly slow moving habits, bison are surprisingly agile and can be quick to react.”

This photographer might have thought he was far enough away because he had a wall between him and the bison, but bison are capable of hopping quickly over walls:

bison halfway over a wall

Before bison charges has more, including what people were doing before a bison charged them, and injuries they received.

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photographer too close to elk, with sign that says danger do not approach elk


NPS photo of an elk ramming a car:

warning poster of woman running from an elk

and see Safe distances from wildife for more photos and charts to better be able to determine how far away from wildlife you need to stay to be safe (and obey laws that do have penalties).


Person Seriously Injured By Elk

Yellowstone park news release

Date: June 4, 2018

Charlene Triplett, age 51, from Las Vegas, Nevada, was attacked by a cow elk behind the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel on Sunday, June 3.

The elk was protecting a calf bedded down roughly 20 feet away and hidden by other cars. It’s not known if Ms. Triplett saw the calf or the elk prior to the encounter.

The elk reportedly reared up and kicked Ms. Triplett multiple times with its front legs, hitting her head, torso, and back.

Due to the severity of her injuries, Ms. Triplett was flown to the trauma center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

At the time of the incident Ms. Triplett was off-duty. She is an employee at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

Rangers remained in the area to warn others about the elk and calf. No citation was issued.

Use caution around elk, especially during calving season: always remain at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from these animals.


from the National Park Service morning report:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)

Runner Charged, Struck By Bull Elk

A long-time park resident was running on a trail behind the Albright Training Center between Center Road and the Grand Canyon School around 6 a.m. on September 19th when he was charged by a large bull elk. He saw that the elk was rubbing its antlers on a tree and acting aggressively, so he took evasive action and ran off trail into the woods around it. The elk pursued, though, and knocked him down. He was able to get away and flagged down a passerby, who called for assistance. The runner suffered scrapes and bruises along with an ankle injury and was transported by ambulance to the Flagstaff Medical Center. Park wildlife biologists and rangers will spend the next several days in the area where the incident occurred and will attempt to move the elk out of the area using aversive conditioning. Although encounters with bull elk have not been common within the park, rangers are reminding residents and park visitors that it is rutting season for both deer and elk. During this period, generally September/October, these animals become increasingly aggressive and may become angered by any intrusion into their territory. Elk, which can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds, have been known to injure or kill people who approach them. [Submitted by Maureen Oltrogge, Public Affairs Officer]


from the National Park Service morning report:

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Visitor Gored by Bull Elk

A park visitor who approached a bull elk too closely this past weekend was gored by the animal. The incident happened on Sunday morning near the Terrace Grill in Mammoth Hot Springs. A 60-year old man from Texas walked to within ten feet of the elk. He took a flash photograph of the animal, then turned his back on the bull and began to walk away. The startled bull put his head down and charged the visitor, who turned back toward the elk just in time to be struck head on by the antlers. He received some cuts and bruises to his head, hands and chest. A park employee charged by the same bull while leaving a building Sunday evening was bruised and strained some muscles. The elk also damaged six cars in the Mammoth Hot Springs area Sunday, adding to the six he had previously attacked. Total damage to the vehicles caused by this one bull elk has been estimated at $12,000 to $15,000. Because this overly aggressive bull was threatening the health and safety of visitors and employees, park managers decided to tranquilize the animal and remove his antlers. Transporting the animal to a distant location was ruled out because over-stressed animals can choke to death on regurgitated food. Even when successfully relocated, past history has shown elk shortly return to their original location. Elk congregate at Mammoth Hot Springs and many other developed areas in the park at during the fall mating season. The large, muscular bulls bugle and display their massive antlers to intimidate other bulls and impress herds of cow elk. Despite their often-docile appearance, elk are unpredictable, wild animals. They can run much faster than people can. Both cows and bulls can be very excitable and dangerous at this time of year. Sharpened tines on the large antlers of mature bulls are very effective weapons when wielded by animals weighing an average of 700 pounds. They may mock fight with trees or vehicles, spar with other rivals, or chase unsuspecting visitors who stray too closely.

sign moose emblem:


This NPS photo came with this warning:
when a moose is stressed it will lay its ears back along its head and its hackles will rise.”
moose showing agitation

• Denali National park warns: “Moose are not predatory, and they will not try to eat you. Instead, they try to trample a perceived threat.”


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Friday, June 09, 2006

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

Teenage Visitor Kicked by Moose

Teton Interagency Dispatch received a radio call on June 6th reporting that a visitor from South Korea had been charged and injured by a female moose that was in the vicinity of the Colter Bay Visitor Center with her two newborn calves. Rangers were soon on-scene and provided emergency medical assistance. A park ambulance transported the injured 16-year-old boy to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson. The boy had been taking photos of the animals and had gotten too close – about ten feet from the moose and calves. He began running away when the moose charged him, but the moose reached him quickly and kicked him in the head. Earlier that day, staff at the Colter Bay Visitor Center called the dispatch center to report that a woman with two children had been hiking the Lakeshore Trail and had been charged by the same moose. Due to these incidents, rangers instituted a temporary closure of a paved section of the Lakeshore Trail just beyond the Colter Bay amphitheater. At 9:30 p.m. that evening, the moose was still in the area. On Wednesday morning, after seeing no sign of the moose, rangers were able to reopen the area to the public. Rangers are monitoring the area, and there may continue to be intermittent closures. [Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Specialist]



“In February 1993, a snowmobiler tried to pass a moose that had
previously been observed making aggressive charges toward snowmobiles. As the snowmobile began to pass, both the moose and the snowmobile swerved in the same direction, causing a collision. The snowmobiler sustained a broken back. The moose broke a front leg and was shot by a ranger.


In July 1987, at Canyon Village, a screaming child ran toward a cow moose
and her calf. The cow moose kicked the child, then left the area. The child received eight stitches.”


see also advice from the MAYO clinic:


Thursday, October 24, 2002
Canyonlands National Park (UT)
Water Intoxication Victim; Life Saved

On the afternoon of September 23, rangers were notified that a 56-year-old male mountain biker on a multiple-day backcountry bike trip was suffering serious medical problems – illness, vomiting, diminished consciousness and inability to urinate – on the remote White Rim Road. A medical helicopter was dispatched and flew him to Grand Junction, Colorado. Doctors determined that the man had drunk about two gallons of water during his morning ride and was suffering from water intoxication, which probably would have been fatal without rapid transport, clinical evaluation, and follow-up treatment. The rescue was facilitated by a biking party with a mobile telephone and GPS unit that was also in the backcountry. (Note: Water intoxication occurs when a person swallows enough water to significantly lower the concentration of salt in his/her blood. The causes the brain to swell, which in turn produces a decreased level of consciousness progressing from lethargy to stupor to coma).

[Submitted by Steve Swanke, Incident Commander]



October 2018, Yosemite National park

CBS news reported ” A couple that fell to their deaths at Yosemite National Park while taking a selfie in October reportedly had alcohol in their systems at the time.

San Jose Mercury News reported:
“Bay Area couple who fell to their deaths from Yosemite’s Taft Point were intoxicated. . .
Two people who died after falling more than 800 feet from a scenic overlook at Yosemite National Park in October had alcohol in their systems and were intoxicated at the time of the incident, according to autopsy reports.”


August 26, 2017 Grand Teton National Park

“At approximately 6:40 p.m. Saturday, August 26, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report that a man had fallen off a noncommercial raft and was floating near several obstacles in the water without a life jacket on the Snake River south of Deadmans Bar. The park immediately launched rangers via air, water and on foot to locate the man. The raft and two individuals on board were soon identified by a helicopter and viewed to be floating with no distress, as the man self-rescued and was able to get back in the raft. Rangers contacted the two individuals at a pullout near Moose Landing and the operator of the vessel was cited for multiple violations, including operating a boat under the influence of alcohol. The boat operator, 35-year old J___ G____ from Dallas, Texas was transported to Teton County Jail and had an initial court appearance on Monday, August 28.”


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grand Teton National Park (WY)

One Killed, Five Injured In Rollover Accident

Twenty-one NPS and Teton County personnel with four ambulances and a rescue truck responded to a rollover accident on Wilderness Road in the North District at 1:45 a.m. on the morning of Saturday,
July 21st. The road passes through the park to Forest Service camping areas and wilderness trailheads. Rangers were first on scene and began triaging six of the seven victims with the assistance of a number of bystanders. The seventh occupant was found and assessed by rangers and deputies at an emergencycheckpoint established on Pacific Creek Road to identify witnesses and additional victims. Five of the seven were taken by three park
ambulances to St. John’s Hospital. The driver – Matthew Stiles, 21,
of Valley Alabama – had been ejected from the pickup. He was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, but succumbed to his injuries. Alcohol
and speed were the primary factors in the accident.
[Submitted by Patrick W. Hattaway, North District Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chickasaw National Recreation Area (OK)
Shots Fired At Campground

On July 17th, rangers responded to a report of shots fired at the swimming area at Buckhorn Campground. They contacted three people at the water’s edge – Barry Judd, Diane Taylor and Sharon Taylor. They learned that Sharon Taylor had been engaged in a domestic dispute with Judd and had removed a .45 caliber pistol from his vehicle and fired several shots into the woods not far from several visitors. Taylor said that she wanted Judd to think that she’d committed suicide. All three were arrested for public intoxication. Sharon Taylor was charged with discharging a firearm in a public place. [Submitted by Dennis Weiland, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL,MS)

Woman Killed In Boating Accident

Ranger Ben Moore was patrolling by boat off the coast
of Horn Island on the afternoon of May 27th when he was
flagged down by people on a 23-foot Baja.
When he got to the boat, Moore found that they had just pulled
a 35-year-old woman who was a member of their party
out of the ocean. He determined that she’d sustained
severe facial injuries and was beyond resuscitation.
The woman, a resident of Long Beach, Mississippi,
had evidently been swimming near the boat while the outboard motor
was under power. While climbing back on board via the stern ladder,
she lost her footing, fell back into the water,
and was hit by the spinning prop.
Another member of the party attempted to rescue her,
but she never regained consciousness.
Although the incident remains under investigation,
it appears at present that alcohol may have been a
significant contributing factor.

[Submitted by Clay Jordan, Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Buffalo National River (AR)

Cliff Jumping Accident

On the afternoon of May 13th, a bystander contacted the host
at Ozark campground and reported that a 43-year-old man
was in need of immediate medical attention after jumping
off a 60-foot cliff
along the Buffalo River.
The man was reported to have lost consciousness
and was seen floating face down after hitting the water feet first.
Rangers, an ambulance and a medevac helicopter responded
and arrived within minutes of the initial call.
The man was pulled out of the water by bystanders prior
to the arrival of EMS units and was found lying on the ground,
complaining of severe back pain but showing no signs of paralysis.
He was treated by paramedics and airlifted
to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The man’s 38-year-old friend had dropped off the cliff first,
but did not sustain any injuries.
In an interview. the friend admitted that they both had
smoked marijuana, taken several illegally obtained Xanax pills,
and consumed about a case of beer prior to the accident
[Submitted by Lee Buschkowsky, Upper District Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Friday, March 16, 2007

Buffalo National River (AR)

Three Charged In Campground Brawl

During the afternoon of Saturday, March 10th, a group of 15 men and women in their early 20’s set up camp at Steel Creek Campground. Members of the group apparently knew each other from working at the Olive Garden restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A law enforcement ranger made contact with them after 4 p.m. and warned them about their loud radio and group size, instructing them to spread out to more than one campsite.

After the ranger left, two men in their early 20’s on horseback stopped at the campsite and offered rides to several of the women. The pair continued to hang out with the group into the evening, when group members began to consume a considerable amount of alcohol. A man in the camping group did not like the advances that one of the riders was making toward his girlfriend and made a racial comment to him. The two men then began yelling and cursing at each other. The two horseback riders broke away, loaded up their horses, and left the campground around 7:30 p.m.

They returned in a different vehicle around 11 p.m., but with another five to ten men with them. A confrontation followed with the camping group, with one of the riders striking people with a metal pipe. The other rider apparently tried to stop the fight, but the jealous boyfriend confronted him. The girlfriend got in between the two men and was struck in the head by the rider when he attempted to punch the boyfriend. Another man in the camping party grabbed the pipe and began repeatedly striking the rider on the head and back.

At about 12:30 a.m., the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting a fight in progress with weapons involved and a possible fatality. Deputies, Arkansas state troopers, rangers and an ambulance company responded to the remote location. The groups had in the meanwhile separated. As the group of locals returned to their vehicle, they vandalized two parked cars. Before driving away, they made the comment that they were high on crystal meth and that nothing could hurt them.

Based on information provided by one of the reporting parties, two of the men were immediately apprehended at their homes in Compton, Arkansas. Other units at the campground began treating injuries and taking witness statements. Two men from the camping group were transported to Northern Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison, Arkansas, where they were treated for minor injuries and released. The two men who were arrested in Compton refused to provide information on the identities of the others involved. Both were charged by Newton County with third degree battery and disorderly conduct. One of the men in the camping party was charged with the same offenses. [Submitted by Lee Buschkowsky, Upper District Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)

Two Arrested Following Technical Rescue

Rangers responded to a report of two people over a cliff in the main amphitheater near Sunset Point on Sunday, September 17th. As they were helping the first man to safety, they quickly determined that he was in an altered mental state. The man said that he and his friend had been using psychoactive mushrooms and had decided to ‘fly’ off the cliff face. Having been only partially successful, they landed on the scree slope approximately 60 feet below. Rangers rappelled to the second young man, who was suffering from drug-induced schizophrenia and alternating from combative to unresponsive, rendering him unable to assist in his rescue. He was evacuated via a technical raising. Rangers found drugs stashed in the cliff face and in their vehicle. Both were arrested after being released from the hospital and remained in custody until appearing in court. Both have since entered guilty pleas to felony charges and will be sentenced in December. The park is seeking restitution for the cost of their rescue. [Submitted by Brent McGinn, Chief Ranger]


from the NPS daily report of Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Driver Hits Bison, Then Drives Into River

Rangers from the Madison Subdistrict investigated a report of a vehicle submerged in the Madison River early on the morning of June 14th. They found the car in the river and the occupants nearby, wet and under the influence of alcohol. One was also injured. They determined that the driver had hit a bison weighing about 2,200 pounds, causing significant damage to the car (including the loss of the windshield). They attempted to drive to Old Faithful but ended up driving into the river. The driver was taken to a hospital outside the park by NPS EMS personnel; the passenger was arrested. The bison suffered serious and possibly lethal injuries. A major operation was undertaken to recover the car from the river. Both the driver and passenger face numerous charges, including DUI, giving rangers false information, unsafe operation, destruction of wildlife, and, possibly, misappropriation of the vehicle. The case remains under investigation. The prosecutor plans on seeking significant restitution for damage to or destruction of wildlife and other costs associated with the incident. Supervisory ranger Curt Dimmick is the primary investigator.
[Submitted by Brian Smith, Supervisory Special Agent]


Cape Hatteras National Seashore (NC)
Jeep Rollover Accident with Fatality
from the National Park Service Morning Report Monday, June 16, 2003

George Wheatly, 20, of Beaufort, North Carolina, was driving a Jeep Wrangler on South Point Beach around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 14th, when he passed through a washed-out area and rolled it over. A 17-year-old exchange student in the Jeep died at the scene; another passenger received serious injuries and was flown by Marine Corps helicopter to a mainland hospital. None of the four people in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt. Alcohol was a factor. Charges against Wheatly are pending.
[Submitted by Paul Stevens, Acting Chief Ranger]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Thursday, October 11, 2001

Bighorn Canyon NRA (MT) – Rattlesnake Bite

Randy Boyles and Ryan Hirschi were boating in Afterbay Reservoir on August 26th when Boyles saw and struck a rattlesnake with an oar on the premise that it might climb into his boat. Hirschi presumed that the snake was dead and grabbed it; unfortunately, the snake had only been stunned and reacted by biting Hirschi on his right index finger. Ranger Scott Taylor provided initial emergency care and removed a ring from Hirschi’s finger. He was then taken to the emergency room at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Billings for further treatment. Boyles and Hirschi said that they’d planned on killing the snake and taking its rattles. Ranger Lance Twombly cited Boyles for disturbing wildlife and placed him under arrest on an outstanding warrant. The two men had been cited for a traffic violation the previous night, and evidence in their camp site indicated that they’d consumed large quantities of alcohol. [Chris Ryan, ACR, BICA, 10/10]



sign do not store food in cars: bear damage common sign:

diving or jumping from bridge prohibited: sign danger climbing on rocks:

lg tower and warning sign Cowell's beach: warning beach top words 120 pxls:

sign danger strong current: ocean beach warning sign people have drowned here:

NPS sign closed bear danger: sign keep wildilfe wild: NPS man on barrier Yellowstone 120pxls: sign dangerous area: sign thin crust area: warning sign at Yellowstone thermal basin: thin crust areasign danger thermal area.: sign danger thermal area

sign slow down wildlife on road: rockfall warning sign Yose falls trail:

NPS flash flood sign: sign: flash flood warning with rain cloud and person in water




In the Jackson Hole News and Guide we read:

Steamboat Geyser trespass nets Washington man jail time, Yellowstone ban

Jun 14, 2024

A 21-year-old man who entered off-limits terrain to take pictures of Yellowstone’s most dangerous geyser was sentenced June 4 to seven days in jail for thermal trespass, banned from the national park for two years and fined $1,500.

“Trespassing in closed, thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park is dangerous and harms the natural resource,” acting U.S. Attorney Eric Heimann said in a press release about Viktor Pyshniuk, of Lynwood, Washington. “In cases like this one where we have strong evidence showing a person has willfully disregarded signs and entered a closed, thermal area, federal prosecutors will seek significant penalties, including jail time.”

The release said an off-duty Yellowstone employee reported seeing Pyshniuk walking off the boardwalk in the thermal area at Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin, and a park law enforcement officer was dispatched to the scene.
“The employee had taken a photo of the defendant who had clearly crossed over the fence and was walking up the hillside within 15-20 feet of Steamboat Geyser’s steam vent,” the release said.

Steamboat is “the world’s tallest active geyser, but it is also the most dangerous,” the release said. “It has erratic and unpredictable eruptions that can rise anywhere from six to 300 feet high.” Yellowstone’s website says eruptions can be so powerful that “mature lodgepole pines have been broken by the downpour, undermined and then washed away by the geyser’s massive discharge.”

. . . The officer showed Pyshniuk the signs throughout the area stating it is illegal to leave the boardwalk and highly risky due to possible weak ground layers and other hazards.

During sentencing, Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick noted that the 3-foot fencing around the boardwalk is a clear sign the area is closed. She told Pyshniuk the sentence was designed to deter not only him but everyone else from leaving the boardwalk in the area.

“She expressed her concern that the defendant’s actions were seen by the people around him, and they might have thought it was okay to do the same thing,” the release said. “And if every visitor to YNP disobeyed the rules, the park would be destroyed, and no-one would be able to enjoy it.”

Pyshniuk also was placed on two years of unsupervised release and required to pay a $30 court processing fee and a $20 special assessment.




Yellowstone National park
January 9, 2020

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Two men were recently sentenced for trespassing on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser, a closed thermal area. Eric Schefflin, 20, of Lakewood, Colorado, and Ryan Goetz, 25, of Woodstock, New York, appeared in court on December 5, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.

Schefflin and Goetz pleaded guilty to the violation of thermal trespass. On September 10, 2019, at about 8:30 p.m., employees and visitors witnessed two individuals walking on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser and reported it to park dispatch. A ranger contacted and cited Schefflin and Goetz.

Sentencing for each included:

10 days of incarceration
$540 in restitution
Five years of unsupervised probation
Five year ban from Yellowstone National Park

“Visitors must realize that walking on thermal features is dangerous, damages the resource, and illegal. Law enforcement officers take this violation seriously. Yellowstone National Park also appreciates the court for recognizing the impact thermal trespass can have on these amazing features,” said Chief Ranger Sarah Davis.




Sept. 30, 2019 The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported

“A 48-year-old man is in critical condition after suffering severe burns across his body from falling into thermal water Sunday night near the cone of Old Faithful Geyser.

A U.S. citizen currently living in India, C___E ___S___ told rangers that he went for a walk off of the boardwalk without a flashlight and tripped into a hot spring, Yellowstone National Park officials said Monday.

Rangers detected evidence of alcohol use when they responded to the Old Faithful Inn at midnight where S____ was staying. After his fall, S______ got himself back to his hotel room.

S______ was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone Airport and flown to Idaho Falls. Bad weather prevented the use of a life flight helicopter at Old Faithful. He was admitted to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where he remained in critical condition Monday evening, hospital public information officer Coleen Niemann said.

The temperature of the water at the pool where S______ was injured measured almost 150 degrees Fahrenheit when it was tested in August, park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said.

“Since rangers were not at the scene of the incident last night, they went out at first light this morning to investigate in the thermal area,” the news release states. “They discovered several items near the geyser (the man’s shoe, hat, and a beer can), footprints going to and from the geyser, and blood on the boardwalk.”

It is illegal to leave the boardwalks around Old Faithful, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The ongoing investigation includes assessing possible damage to the geyser cone.

The results of an investigation into the accident will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a decision on whether criminal charges will be filed.

Park officials are reminding visitors to stay on boardwalks and exercise extreme caution around thermal features where the ground is fragile and thin, with scalding water just below the surface.

So far in 2019, about three dozen people have been cited by rangers for walking away from boardwalks in thermal areas, an increase from the number of citations in 2018, Warthin said.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area in two years. In June 2017, a man sustained severe burns after falling in a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin. In June 2016, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

At least 22 people are known to have died from hot springs-related injuries in and around the park since 1890, officials have said. Most of the deaths have been accidents, although at least two people had been trying to swim in a hot spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.”





Visitor Fatality in Yosemite National Park – Yosemite News Release February 25, 2019

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Sunday February 24, 2019, a park visitor was killed in an incident on the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park. X___ W___, 56, from Cupertino, California was hiking on the trail when she was struck by falling rock and ice and she succumbed to her injuries soon thereafter .

The Mist Trail, a popular trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Vernal Fall, is closed this time of year due to icy and hazardous conditions. The trail closure is clearly marked and there is a gate on the trail reminding visitors of the closure. W___ ignored the signs, went around the gate and the incident happened on the trail leading to Vernal Fall.”




July 17, 2016 from the Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue Blog

“Saturday afternoon, July 9, a 19 year old female takes a short hike up the Bridalveil Fall trail and then enters the boulder field beyond the pavement, passing three “danger” signs to engage in some impromptu scrambling. She is joining the dozens of other scramblers who have also passed the danger signs. The glacially polished granite is slippery when dry; it’s worse when wet, which it is from steady waterfall spray. Our hiker slips on the granite, falls about five feet, and strikes her head. She immediately loses consciousness and continence and goes into seizures .

At 1:10 pm, Yosemite Communications receives a 911 call reporting an injured hiker in the boulder field. Park emergency medical services rangers proceed to the scene followed by a Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) litter team. By the time emergency personnel arrive, the hiker is regaining some level of consciousness, but it is clear she is going to have to be evacuated out of the granite boulders.

Although the injured hiker is only about 100 feet beyond the trail, the YOSAR team finds carrying her a treacherous process due to poor footing. The hiker is transferred to an awaiting park ambulance without incident and is then transported to a hospital in Fresno for a higher level of care.

Lessons learned:

· Danger signs are not there to ruin our fun. They are often posted in places with a large accumulation of past accidents. The boulder fields at Bridalveil and Lower Yosemite Fall have a history of many injuries, sometimes life-altering. Although others were engaging in the same activity, it not good judgment to perceive popularity as an endorsement for your safety. It is better to understand this as evidence that human behavior is contagious.

· If while regaining consciousness, you notice your rescuers are all wearing climbing helmets, special shoes for the slippery granite, and other protective equipment – and you are not – that’s a hint that you were ill-prepared for your activity.

· Scrambling is a technical activity and one should inform oneself and prepare accordingly before engaging in scrambling. If your decision to scramble over granite boulders is spontaneous, you have not done any pre-planning and your activity is probably not a wise choice.

The common denominator in many outdoor mishaps, regardless of the activity, is little to no planning and just doing what you see others doing. This can lead to serious consequences. Outdoor activities abound at Yosemite and are here for you to enjoy. However, if you fail to plan and prepare on the front end, there is often a painful price to pay on the back end.”

Below, one of the signs the injured girl ignored or just did not see:

people beyond a rock with a warning sign




June 14, 2016, from Yellowstone National Park

Visitor Issued Hefty Fine for Off Boardwalk Travel in Thermal Area

A Chinese national was fined $1,000 and a $30 court processing fee for walking off the boardwalk in the Mammoth Hot Springs thermal area Tuesday, June 14, 2016. A visitor observed and reported that the individual walked on the terrace formations near Liberty Cap and collected thermal water. The visitor also reported seeing the individual break through the fragile travertine crust.

A park ranger took the witness’s statement, photos, and location of the violation.

The subsequent law enforcement investigation identified the individual who stated that he did not read the safety information given to him at the park entrance. He also admitted to collecting hot springs water.

A federal violation notice requiring a mandatory appearance in the Yellowstone Justice Center Court was issued for off boardwalk travel in a thermal area.

Park rangers appreciate the willingness of the witness to document and report the violation.

Park employees call on all visitors to protect their park and protect themselves. Regulations to stay on designated trails and boardwalks in thermal areas are for visitor safety and the safety of the exceptional park natural resources. Without visitor cooperation, park natural wonders will continue to be damaged and more individuals may be injured or killed. It is a violation of federal regulations to collect any park resources.

For information on safety around thermal features, visit go.nps.gov/yellsafety.




From the NPS Daily report Monday, July 20, 2015

New River Gorge National River (WV)

Stranded Visitors Rescued From Rimrocked Terrain

Four park visitors from Charleston West Virginia, headed down McKendree Road looking for a local swimming hole, faithfully following their GPS unit. McKendree Road is a state road that accesses remote and seldom visited areas of the park. The park has signed it as “rough road, 4×4 recommended.” They drove on McKendree Road, in their sedan, until they came upon a fallen tree completely blocking the road. They were only 1.8 miles from their destination according to the GPS.

Still trusting the GPS unit that had taken them down McKendree Road in the first place, they decided to walk to the swimming hole. The group walked until reaching Dowdy Creek. They could see the river and decided to walk down the hill towards river not knowing that they were entering some of the steepest and most heinous terrain in the park. On the way down, the terrain became almost vertical. Two members of the group, who had dropped lower on the hill than the others, discovered that they could not climb back up or go down any further. They began to call for help, calls which were overheard by NERI river patrol rangers.

River Ranger Matt McQueen was able to get to the rimrocked visitors and vector in responding units. Ranger Nate Freier set up a low angle belay to assist the stranded visitors back up through the steep terrain. Supported by ten NPS SAR team members, and a WV Department of Natural Resources officer, they made it up the hillside. The group of four was examined for injuries, and reunited near their car. Rangers assisted them in extricating the vehicle from the rough road.


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crater Lake National Park (OR)
Rangers Rescue Women From Caldera

On the afternoon of Sunday, June 10th, rangers received a request for help from a visitor who spotted two women stuck in deep snow in the Crater Lake caldera. They were unable to climb back up and continued to slide down toward the lake. The park SAR team responded and was assisted by staff from other divisions, including fire, natural resources, and fee collection. Rangers Seth Macey and Paul Schauer rappelled down to the two women, secured them, and raised them up to the rim. The women complained of being cold and wet but had no reported injuries. Operations supervisor Jason Ramsdell coordinated the operation. The women, both from Chicago, were illegally hiking in the caldera, which is prohibited due to the steep and dangerous nature of the area. The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only exception to this regulation. Neither woman was near that trail, so they were cited for being in a closed area.
[Submitted by Jan Lemons, Acting Chief Ranger]


this item is in this section because it is a Yellowstone thermal burn incident, but it is not an example of going off trail:

from the National Park Service Morning Report, Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Hiker Scalded By Water From Hidden Natural Pool

Scalding water from a hidden natural pool burned a Utah woman hiking in the park on the afternoon of Thursday, May 29th. Jeanette Hogan was walking with family members on an established dirt trail when she stepped into a pool of rainwater. Her foot broke through and landed in a previously undiscovered hot pool. The slightly acidic water was 171 degrees Fahrenheit, 26 degrees short of boiling temperature at that altitude. The water scalded Hogan’s ankle and lower leg. A park trail crew working nearby gave first aid, and Hogan was transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, where she was treated and released. Hogan was hiking in the Artists’ Paintpots, a mile-long loop hike of colorful mud hot springs located about two-and-a-half miles south of the Norris Junction. Continuing geological activity causes the earth at Yellowstone to shift often, and boiling water can lie beneath a thin crust of earth. The area is temporarily closed. Four people were treated for thermal burns in the park last year. [Submitted by Salt Lake Tribune]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Friday, August 18, 2006

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)

Concession Employee Dies After Near-Drowning Incident

A young man from Uzbekistan passed away on Saturday, August 12th, from complications resulting from a near-drowning incident that occurred on Lake Powell on July 21st. Komil Alimov, 23, was using a water trampoline near the Wahweap main launch ramp when he jumped into the water and began struggling. After Alimov went underwater, bystanders began diving down in an attempt to find him and pull him to shore. After being submerged for at least seven to ten minutes, he was found by a Dutch visitor and brought to shore, where others began performing CPR. Rangers responded and continued CPR. Alimov was flown by Classic Lifeguard helicopter to Page Hospital, then flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah. Alimov remained in the hospital in critical condition until his death. Although the trampoline was marked “Life Vest Required,” Alimov was not wearing a life jacket at the time. He reportedly did not know how to swim. Alimov was working in a seasonal position for Aramark, the park concessioner, in the food and beverage department at Lake Powell Resort. This was the fourth fatality of the year at Glen Canyon. [Submitted by Kevin Schneider, Public Affairs Specialist]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Falling Fatality At Bridal Veil Falls

On Thursday, August 3rd, Valley District rangers and SAR personnel responded to a report of a person who had fallen onto the boulders at the base of Bridal Veil Fall. The victim, a 17-year-old boy from Phoenix, Arizona, had been scrambling on the wet rocks when he slipped and fell about 30 feet, landing head first on the rocks below a smaller waterfall and suffering serious head trauma. The first ranger on scene, a park medic, provided advanced life support to the boy, who was still breathing. His pulse soon stopped, though, so the medic began CPR and conducted it with the assistance of bystanders and the arriving SAR team. The base hospital physician was contacted by radio and eventually ended the resuscitation efforts. The boy was evacuated from the area by belayed litter. [Submitted by Leslie Reynolds, Acting Valley District Ranger]

below: photos of the sign at the end of the path to the viewpoint at the base of Bridal Veil Fall:

sign danger climbing on rocks: child climbing on rock with warning sign about not climbing on the rocks:


Friday, July 07, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway

Injured Falling Victim Rescued From Cascade Falls

On the morning of Sunday, July 2nd, a 16-year-old boy fell about six feet off a log across Cascade Falls, then slid about 40 feet down the cascading falls until he hit a tree. The tree stopped him from sliding any further down the falls, but broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg. Rangers and three local rescue and volunteer fire departments responded. Rescuers were able to safely raise him up to an overlook, then carry him to an ambulance and eventually transfer him to a helicopter that flew him to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The victim’s mother told rangers that the boy had gone under a fence at the overlook, then scrambled down about 50 feet to the log. Both his parents warned him to turn around and come back. He fell as he was turning around.


from the NPS Daily Report

Early July 2006

Colonial National Historical Park (VA)

Near Drowning in College Creek

Park dispatch received a report of a visitor having difficulty swimming at the College Creek beach area along Colonial Parkway on the afternoon of June 18th. The caller reported that other visitors were attempting to rescue the swimmer. Rangers responded along with units from James City County FD and Williamsburg FD. They found that a man had been swimming in the creek when he was caught by a strong tidal current from the nearby James River estuary. When he went underwater, five teenage boys entered the creek and pulled him to shore. He was semi-conscious by that time. Firefighters treated him and took him to a local hospital, where he’s expected to make a full recovery. The mouth of College Creek is at the James River, which has a very strong tidal current. The area is posted ‘no swimming’ because of the danger, but is frequently used by local residents as a beach. [Submitted by Tom Nash, Chief Ranger]


from the NPS Daily Report of Monday, June 19, 2006

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Woman Falls Over Cliff To Her Death

A visitor from Michigan slipped and fell to her death north of the Tower Fall area around 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. The 52-year-old woman, her husband, and their two children had stopped at an overlook along the road about three-quarters of a mile north of the Tower Fall area. The woman stepped over a small rock retaining wall to take a photo, lost her footing, slipped down an embankment, then went over a cliff. She fell about 500 feet, coming to rest near the Yellowstone River. The woman’s husband flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911 for help. Responding rangers could see the woman through a spotting scope lying immobile on the canyon floor. High, fast-moving water prevented rescuers from reaching the woman by raft, so a ranger rappelled down the canyon wall to reach the woman. She was declared dead at the scene. Her body was then placed in a litter suspended by cable from a helicopter and flown out of the area on Saturday afternoon.
[Submitted by Public Affairs, Yellowstone NP]


Monday, June 12, 2006

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Young Boy Burned Near Old Faithful

A six-year-old boy from Utah was burned on the evening of Saturday, June 10th, after falling into water from a recently erupted geyser. The boy, his parents, and two older siblings had entered the park earlier in the day, pitched camp at Madison Campground, then traveled to the Old Faithful area. The family had just watched an eruption of Grand Geyser around 6:00 p.m. The boy was playing and walking along on the wet boardwalk when he slipped and fell into hot water runoff from nearby West Triplet Geyser, which had also recently erupted. He was pulled from the water after suffering burns to his arms and legs. A park ranger was nearby and immediately summoned Old Faithful rangers, who responded to the scene with an ambulance and paramedic. The boy was taken to the Old Faithful Clinic, where his condition was stabilized. He was then transported by ambulance to the West Yellowstone, Montana, airport and flown by air ambulance to the burn center at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. His current condition is unavailable. The boy is the first person to receive severe thermal burns this summer in the park.

below: a warning sign and a drawing from another warning sign

yellowstone warning sign unstable ground stay on trail: drawing from Yellowstone warning sign:

The boardwalks are narrow and do not always have railings
. Running, playing or bringing dogs on these would be dangerous:
boardwalk over a large hot spring

October 18, 2005

Child Suffers Thermal Burns in Yellowstone National Park

A 6-year old boy from Wisconsin was burned after he tripped and fell into a hot spring while walking off-trail in the Firehole Lake Drive area in Yellowstone National Park. The incident occurred at around 3:00 p.m. on October 17, 2005.
The boy and his father were walking off-trail, when the boy stumbled and fell into the hot spring. His father was able to pull him out of the hot spring immediately. The boy received second degree burns to both of his feet and ankles and to his right wrist.
The boy’s father brought him to the Old Faithful Clinic for initial treatment. He was then taken by National Park Service ground transport to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, for additional care.
Park visitors are reminded that for their safety and the safety of their children it is important to stay on boardwalks and designated trails while viewing all thermal features in the park. Scalding water underlies thin, breakable crusts; many geyser eruptions are unpredictable, and thermal features are near or above boiling temperatures. Boardwalks and trails help protect park visitors and prevent damage to delicate formations.
– www.nps.gov/yell –


from the NPS Daily Report of Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)
Two Suffer Thermal Burns In Separate Incidents

Two park visitors suffered thermal burns in separate incidents this past Friday and Saturday. A 50-year old visitor from Spain was burned on Friday, August 12th, after stepping through a thin crust in a thermal area while walking around Potts Basin near West Thumb. The incident occurred at around 6:30 p.m. The woman and her family were touring the park when they stopped at Potts Basin. The entire family was off-trail in a closed area, walking around, when the woman stepped through a thin crust into hot water. She received second degree burns to her left foot and ankle.

Family members hiked out of the area and drove to the registration desk at Grant Village to report the incident and seek medical attention. Park EMS staff immediately responded, stabilized the victim’s injuries, and transported her by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson, Wyoming.

On Saturday afternoon, a 49-year old park visitor from New Hampshire was burned after stepping into a hot muddy area while walking off-trail near Lone Star Geyser in the Old Faithful area. The man and his family were touring the park when they stopped at Lone Star Geyser. The entire family was off-trail, walking around the area, when the man stepped into some hot mud. He received second degree burns to the top of his left foot up and around his left ankle and lower calf.

Family members hiked out of the area and drove to the Old Faithful Ranger Station to report the incident and seek medical attention. Park EMS staff again responded, treated him, and took him to the same hospital.

These were the second and third visitors to receive thermal burns during the 2005 summer season. The park has again issued reminders to visitors that, for their own safety, it is important to stay on boardwalks and designated trails while viewing all thermal features in the park. Scalding water underlies thin, breakable crusts; many geyser eruptions are unpredictable; and thermal features are near or above boiling temperatures. Boardwalks and trails help protect park visitors and prevent damage to delicate formations. [Submitted by Cheryl Matthews, Public Affairs Officer]


July 3, 2005

Young Boy Burned in Yellowstone National Park

A 9-year-old boy was severely burned this morning, July 3, 2005, after falling into a hot spring pool in a thermal area in Yellowstone National Park. The incident occurred at around 9:00 a.m. near the north end of Yellowstone Lake.

The boy, Matthew-Luke Hoang of Lawrenceberg, Kentucky and his family had entered the park through the East Entrance this morning, and stopped for a break near the small thermal area. The family saw some steam, which attracted them to the hot spring area. The boy had been playing with his dog, and somehow fell into the pool, suffering second degree burns and possibly some third degree burns over approximately 40 percent of his body. His father was able to immediately pull him out of the hot water, and called 911.

A park maintenance employee and another bystander were able to direct the family toward Lake Clinic, about 10 miles away. A park ranger met them at Fishing Bridge and led them to the clinic. Hoang was stabilized at the clinic, flown by a lifeflight helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, then flown in a fixed-wing aircraft to the burn center in Salt Lake City.
At this time, the temperature and depth of the hot spring is unknown.

This is the first individual to receive a thermal burn during the 2005 summer season. Park visitors are reminded that for their own safety it is important to stay on boardwalks and designated trails while viewing all thermal features in the park. Scalding water underlies thin, breakable crusts; many geyser eruptions are unpredictable, and many thermal features are near or above boiling temperatures. Boardwalks and trails help protect park visitors and prevent damage to delicate formations.
-www.nps.gov/yell –


from the NPS Daily Report of Monday, October 18, 2004

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Visitor Suffers Thermal Burns

A 39-year old park visitor from Georgia was burned last Thursday afternoon after breaking through the crust in a thermal area at Old Faithful.

The man and his friend were touring the Firehole Lake area in the Lower Geyser Basin when they decided to get off the boardwalk at Artesia Geyser. The man broke through the crust, submerging both his legs up to the knees in hot water and suffering second degree burns to approximately 25 percent of his body.

His friend pulled him from the hot water and drove him to the Old Faithful Inn to seek medical attention. Park EMS staff stabilized the man’s injuries and transported him by ambulance to the Old Faithful Clinic for additional care. He was subsequently taken by life flight helicopter to Eastern Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

He was the first person to receive a thermal burn during the 2004 summer season. Park visitors are reminded that for their own safety it is important to stay on boardwalks and designated trails while viewing all thermal features in the park. Scalding water underlies thin, breakable crusts; many geyser eruptions are unpredictable, and thermal features are near or above boiling temperatures. Boardwalks and trails help protect park visitors and prevent damage to delicate formations.
[Submitted by Public Affairs Office]


From a Grand Canyon press release

April 3, 2002

New Zealand Man Rescued After Fall Into Canyon

A twenty-nine year old New Zealand man was rescued this afternoon after falling approximately 75 feet into the Grand Canyon. The accident occurred approximately ¼ mile west of Hopi Point along the popular Hermit Road on the West Rim.

Members of the Grand Canyon Technical Search and Rescue Team, headed up by Incident Commander Bil Vandergraff, rappelled down to the victim, stabilized him, and then evacuated the victim by helicopter short-haul to the canyon rim. A deputy from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the rescue operation. The victim was transported by ground ambulance to the Grand Canyon Helibase, then transferred to Guardian Air Transport (Angel One) for transportation to Flagstaff Medical Center where he will be treated for his injuries.

The accident occurred at approximately 1:45 p.m. and was witnessed by the victim’s brother, also from New Zealand. The victim’s bother reported the accident by flagging down a passing shuttle bus, operated by Paul Revere Transportation.

This is the third successful rescue operation in the last month. On March 4th, a 72-year-old woman from Missouri was rescued after falling approximately 100 feet from the rim near Yavapai Point, and on March 20th park rangers were called in to rescue a visitor stranded below the rim. “These visitors were lucky,” said Vandergraff. “They don’t all turn out so well.” Vandergraff added, “these are preventable accidents, and can quickly turn a vacation into a nightmare. Visitors should use caution anytime they are near the rim, stay behind the guardrails and retaining walls, and be aware of their footing and the condition of the ground surface they are standing on.”




Yes, the rocks these people are climbing on are right at the edge of a cliff.

people climbing on rocks at the edge of a cliff just past a sign with large letters that says Do Not Enter





from the National Park Service Morning Report

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ,NV)

One Dead, Five Treated For Heat-Related Ailments

Rangers and other emergency services personnel conducted a search and rescue operation for two men and four Boy Scouts in the White Rock Canyon area on Saturday, June 8th. One of the men, a 69-year-old Las Vegas resident, was found dead; the other man and four boys were found to be suffering from heat-related ailments. The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office notified the park that the Boy Scouts were lost near Arizona Hot Springs early that afternoon. While rangers and fire personnel were searching for them, park dispatch received another call reporting that two men were suffering from heat stroke in the same area. The first man was found dead about a mile from an area trailhead; the second man was found about 20 minutes later and received advanced life support care at the scene before being flown out to a hospital. The four Boy Scouts were found late in the afternoon and were treated by paramedics at the trailhead. The park was under an excessive heat warning at the time of the incident. Temperatures throughout the park were near or above 110 degrees.

[Submitted by Christie Vanover, Public Affairs Officer]


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (WI)

Kayakers Rescued From Rough Lake Waters

On the afternoon of August 6th, a group of six young people, including a camp counselor and a guide from Chequamegon Adventure Company, departed the Little Sand Bay on Lake Superior by kayak. Both gale and small craft advisories were posted for the waters along the lake’s western shoreline at the time. These warnings were ignored by the company’s guide and led to a series of mishaps. While the guide and camp leader were attempting to assist a kayaker with a rudder problem, the group of kayakers became widely separated by waves ranging up to four feet or more in height. National Park Service and US Coast Guard personnel responded in their vessels to a marine radio report of two kayaks in distress just east of the park’s mainland unit. They arrived on scene just as two people reached the shore after having capsized their kayaks. At about the same time, ranger Michael Larsen received a radio message from park employees stationed at Little Sand Bay who reported seeing what they thought was a kayak off York Island. They thought that it might be associated with the guided kayak group. Larsen diverted his boat from his original course and went to the aid of the distressed kayaker. He found an unresponsive young man draped over the side of his kayak. Working alone and under rolling high sea conditions, Larsen rescued the kayaker and transported him back to Little Sand Bay. There they met with Red Cliff Ambulance Service personnel, who treated the man for hypothermia. Due to the quick response and a cooperative rescue operation, all parties survived. Chequamegon Adventure Company is currently operating under a new NPS commercial use authorization. The park will conduct a review to determine whether conditions of the permit were met. The guide’s decisions will be studied during a pending incident review. The findings may prove beneficial to both the park and commercial use operators in the future. [Submitted by John Pavkovich, Supervisory Park Ranger]

NPS poster each year over 200 people end their hike like this

The poster above is from this advice page:



Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue at their Lessons From The Field webpage

On the afternoon of June 7, (2015) Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call reporting that there was a subject located in the inner gorge of Yosemite Falls with a broken leg. The injured subject was a 24-year-old female who, along with three other friends, accessed the inner gorge via the Sunnyside Bench rock scramble. At some point, she separated from her friends and took a 10- to 20-foot slide down wet granite resulting in an upper leg injury that prevented her from walking or moving.

Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) was notified of the accident and began its response. A ranger-parkmedic made a hasty ascent to the injured patient and began treatment. Due to the difficulties of accessing the patient, the decision was made to short haul her from the scene using park helicopter 551. At the same time, a second rescue team began making its way to the scene in case the short-haul operation was unsuccessful. The short-haul operation proved successful and the patient was delivered to the Ahwahnee Meadow, where a medical flight helicopter was waiting to take her to definitive care.

An excellent lesson to be learned from this accident is to never underestimate the potential for danger in a place like Yosemite. You don’t have to be miles into the backcountry for things to go wrong in a hurry. In this case, the injured subject was less than a quarter mile in a direct line from the Valley floor (and the YOSAR office). However, due to the nature of her location, a traditional carryout operation would have been extremely time consuming and dangerous for the rescuers and the patient.

Anytime you leave the developed areas of the Valley floor; whether for a hike, a technical climb, or a rock scramble, always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for unforeseen challenges. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear and be prepared to turn around if you encounter terrain outside your comfort level.


Four Accidents In Four Days at Lower Yosemite Fall

August 11, 2014 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue at their Lessons From The Field webpage

Last week in Yosemite Valley, on four consecutive days, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received 911 calls for visitors who had fallen and were injured while venturing off trail near the Lower Yosemite Fall Footbridge. The first incident happened on Sunday, August 3: a 45-year-old male was upstream from the footbridge, standing on a rock, when his foot slipped out from under him and he slid down the face of the rock to the ground. As he slid, he struck his head on the rock, and was bleeding behind his left ear. On Monday, August 4, a 19-year-old female, while scrambling on a slick boulder at the base of Lower Yosemite Fall, slipped and took a five-foot sliding fall off the boulder; unable to walk, the subject was extricated by a Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) carryout team. She suffered a trimalleolar fracture (an ankle fractured in three places), requiring surgical repair and will have an extensive period of recovery. On Tuesday, August 5, a 14-year-old female lost her grip while scrambling on a boulder, slid headfirst down the rock, and injured her left wrist while trying to slow her fall. Although, at the scene of the accident, the subject was nearly certain she had fractured her wrist, no fracture was noted on the x-ray, and she was diagnosed with a severe sprain. Finally, on Wednesday, August 5, a 45-year-old male slipped and fell while scrambling on uneven terrain not far upstream from the footbridge, spraining his ankle.

After the above-mentioned accidents, yet another occurred on Sunday, August 10. A 26-year-old male was scrambling on the rocks between the footbridge and the base of the waterfall when he slipped and fell, sustaining a large scalp laceration which required repair at the Yosemite Medical Clinic. Additionally, earlier this summer, in June, there were two serious accidents in the same area, near the pool at the base of Lower Yosemite Fall.

Although it is not illegal to scramble up to the pool, it is strongly discouraged due to the risk of injury and also for the risk to responders of these incidents. While you may see many people doing this during your visit, please remember how truly dangerous it can be and make smart choices.

Even though it is tempting to leave the trail and scramble to the bases of Yosemite’s waterfalls, especially as water levels drop, the boulders at the base of waterfalls are always treacherous. Even when dry, the granite rocks remain surprisingly slick, having been polished smooth by the pounding, falling water most of the year. When rescuers respond to these accidents, even though they are wearing footwear with sticky rubber soles and are experienced in navigating through this type of terrain, they find themselves proceeding with extreme caution. Enjoy Yosemite’s waterfalls from the safety of the trail, and if you want to cool off in a waterway, choose a spot along one of Yosemite’s rivers where there is easy access (a sandy beach, for example), and where the river is flowing slowly and the water appears calm. Of course, all natural waterways have hidden dangers: strong, unpredictable currents; unseen drop-offs along the river bottoms; and submerged logs and rocks.

All children need close supervision by an adult who can swim.

If you are an adult who doesn’t know how to swim, do not enter the water!


Open Ankle Fracture at Bridalveil Fall

Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue at their Lessons From The Field webpage

On Saturday, July 6, (2013) at 3:30 p.m., the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 911 call reporting a subject with a leg injury near the base of Bridalveil Fall. Over the next several minutes, the ECC received further details that the injury was possibly an open ankle fracture.

The subject, a 48 year-old male, along with his nine-year-old son, had hiked to the viewing platform below Bridalveil Fall. The pair then left the established trail to scramble up the boulder field toward the base of the waterfall (left), bypassing signs that advise against leaving the trail. Although the boulders were dry, they were still extremely slick; over the years, the boulders have been polished smooth by water from Bridalveil Fall (even rescuers that day, wearing approach shoes with sticky rubber soles, had trouble with their footing). The subject and his son made it to the base of Bridalveil Fall, which is approximately one-eighth of a mile, with a 200-foot elevation gain, above the viewing platform. There they took pictures with another father-son pair they had met along the way. When they all turned to head back down, the subject was immediately concerned about his son slipping and falling on the rocks; the subject explains, “I was trying to get ahead of my son and map out the best course to take. That way I thought if my son lost his footing, I’d be able to stop his fall.” At one point, the subject had to scoot across a large boulder to reach his son; all of a sudden “my foot caught, I started sliding and then tumbling down the rock, and then I fell over the edge…I thought I might die.” The subject took a 15- to 20-foot fall, landing on his back on a boulder below (the subject already suffered from chronic lower back pain and had two implanted neurostimulators). The subject, referring to his pain level, recounts “on a scale of one to ten, I was at a 38.” The other father-son pair, along with the subject’s son, scrambled down to the subject; soon other bystanders arrived to offer assistance.

Within 20 minutes, emergency responders arrived on scene (right) and found the subject lying where he had landed, below the large boulder. The subject did, in fact, suffer an open (compound) fracture to his right ankle. Both stabilizing the traumatic ankle injury and managing the subject’s off-the-charts pain proved challenging to the emergency responders; even with pain medications, the subject was almost constantly writhing and screaming in pain. The response team maintained spine immobilization by packaging the subject into a vacuum body split. Rescuers then loaded the subject into a wheeled litter and, with low-angle rescue gear in place, began descending through the boulder field. Progress was slow due to tricky footy for the rescue team and the subject’s pain levels; after about 15 minutes, the team leader ordered the team to stop and advised the incident commander that a short-haul operation would be required. Yosemite Helitak, using the park helicopter (Helicopter 551), extracted the subject by short-haul from the Bridalveil Fall boulder field and flew him to El Capitan Meadow (below). At El Capitan Meadow, the subject was transferred to an awaiting air ambulance helicopter, who flew the subject out of the park, to a hospital in Modesto, CA.

Four weeks after the incident, the subject is still in a wheelchair and unable to bear any weight on his right foot, but his wife reports that he is “recovering slowly.” He stayed in the hospital for nearly two weeks after his fall, and went through two surgeries on his ankle. A few days into the subject’s hospital stay, doctors discovered that his right wrist was also fractured, so his right arm is in a cast. The subject acknowledges that his accident could have been even worse, and is grateful for the kindness of bystanders: one visitor literally took the shirt off his back and the hat off his head to offer the subject relief from the penetrating summer sun. The father-son pair whom the subject had befriended earlier stayed by the subject’s side, offering prayers and comfort and looking after the subject’s son until rangers and members of Yosemite Search and Rescue took the nine year-old into their care. In looking back on his accident, the subject offers the following advice to hikers: “The risk just isn’t worth it. Always put yourself in a position where you can take care of your children. Don’t take your kids up there.”


from the National Park Service morning report

Friday, March 07, 2008

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Boy Scout Falls To Death

On February 16th, two Boy Scouts were hiking with their troop from Modesto, California, on the Yosemite Falls trail, approximately 300 yards above Columbia Point. The two boys left the trail and attempted to take what they believed was a short cut. Both boys fell due to the steep terrain. One of them was able to self-arrest after a drop of approximately 10 feet, but saw that his companion continued over the edge and fell about 300 feet. The victim was located by rangers at the bottom of the cliff in an area just west of the Munginella climbing route. Advanced life support measures were employed for approximately 15 minutes before the boy was pronounced dead. A preliminary finding of the investigation into the incident by investigators and the medical examiner has ruled the death as accidental. [Submitted by Jeff Sullivan, Supervisory Special Agent]


from the National Park Service morning report

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Injured Visitor Extricated In Seven-Hour Technical Rescue

On the evening of Monday, June 10th, three people in their early 20s were walking along a treacherous segment of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River that contains boulders, sheer cliffs and steep embankments carpeted in poison oak.
As they tried to climb up to the ridgeline above the river, one of them lost his balance and fell 10 to 20 feet into shallow water.
The other two pulled him out of the water and onto a boulder, then one of them went to get help.
John Cilmi, the Potwisha campground host, notified dispatch of the incident just before 7 p.m. Rangers Tim Bailey, Mike Nattrass and Amber Blythe responded.
Because the man could not be reached via the river and no helicopter was available, a technical SAR team was assembled to conduct a night rescue.

Bailey served as IC, while Blythe rappelled about 100 feet down to the victim via long-line to provide medical treatment.

The rescue took over seven hours to complete and required complicated mechanical belays, rappels, and hoists.

The man was placed in a Three Rivers ambulance just before 2 a.m. and driven to Kaweah Delta Hospital.
His injuries were not life threatening. This technical rescue required the efforts of more than 30 people,
including rangers, firefighters and staff from all districts, California CDF firefighters, members of a
Federal Highway Administration illumination crew who were working in the park,
and the volunteer Potwisha campground hosts.
[Submitted by Alexandra Picavet, Public Affairs Specialist]


from the National Park Service morning report
Monday, May 07, 2007

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Entrapped Woman Rescued From Tenaya Creek

The park’s communications center dispatched rescue personnel to Mirror Lake for a swiftwater rescue at 4 p.m. on April 6th. The first ranger on scene saw two people in Tenaya Creek just below the outlet to Mirror Lake – a woman who’d become entrapped and a man who had come to her rescue. Witnesses said that the woman had been in the water for about an hour. She was attempting to cross to the other side of Mirror Lake when she slipped and fell into the creek. She became entrapped while attempting to get out of the water. Bystanders made several attempts to reach her, but without success. A man eventually made his way to her, with rescuers arriving shortly thereafter – the park’s swiftwater team, the Valley fire battalion, the park’s SAR team (YOSAR), and an EMS unit. Two rescuers – Jack Hoeflich and Mark Faherty – swam to the pair and extricated them with the assistance of the engine’s 24-foot ladder. The woman was limp, fatigued and showing signs of exposure. She was transported to a medical facility, treated and released. [Submitted by Jason Gayeski, IC]


from the National Park Service morning report of Monday, October 30, 2006

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Rescue Of Seriously Injured Rock Scrambler

On Sunday, October 22nd, Valley District rangers and SAR team members responded to a report of a 35-year-old woman who had a rock weighing an estimated 1,000 pounds roll over her while she was scrambling on a talus slope. The woman, who was located about 600 feet above the valley floor in Le Conte Gully, suffered chest, spine and lower leg injuries. The medical team stabilized her and placed her in a litter; she was then hoisted out of the gully by a California Highway Patrol helicopter. The CHP helicopter landed at Ahwahnee Meadow and transferred her to a waiting Air Med helicopter to be taken to a trauma center in Modesto. The entire operation lasted just under two hours. [Submitted by Leslie Reynolds, Valley District Ranger]


from the National Park Service morning report

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Visitor Dies In 400-Foot Fall

On Sunday, October 29th, Valley District rangers, SAR personnel and a California Highway Patrol helicopter were involved in a hasty search for a 28-year-old Missouri man who was overdue from a hike. Patrick Watt had last been seen the day before scrambling up the Grizzly Peak Gully by himself east of the John Muir trailhead in the Merced River Canyon above Yosemite Valley. Ground searchers found Watt’s body southeast of Grizzly Peak above the tree line between Vernal Fall and the Vernal Fall foot bridge. It appears that he fell at least 400 feet. The body was hoisted out of the area by the CHP helicopter. [Submitted by Leslie Reynolds, Valley District Ranger]


Yosemite Climbing Ranger John Dill offers this advice at:

climbing advice.


While we can never know for certain, helmets might have made a difference in roughly 25% of the fatal and critical trauma cases. They would have significantly increased – but not guaranteed – the survival chances for five of those fatalities. Furthermore, helmets would have offered excellent protection against less serious fractures, concussions, and lacerations.

Most deaths, however, involved impacts of overwhelming force or mortal wounds other than to the head, i.e., beyond the protection offered by a helmet. This is not an argument against helmets; the point is, a helmet doesn’t make you invincible. What goes on inside your head is more important than what you wear on it.

When to wear a helmet is a personal choice, but it is especially recommended for the following: beginners pushing their skills, roped solo climbing, a high risk of a bad fall or of ice fall (several El Cap routes in winter and spring), and for all approaches, descents, and climbing routes that are crowded and/or particularly loose.”


from a NPS report Sept. 7, 2016

Multiple Search and Rescues End Busy Holiday Weekend at Zion

At 4:17 p.m., Tuesday, September 6, two hikers called 911 after being lost on a day hike on the east side on the park. Kane County forwarded the call and GPS location to Zion’s dispatch and two Search and Rescue (SAR) team members responded. The party hiked out at 9:30 p.m.

A little after 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the park received a report of people yelling for help above Weeping Rock. A group of canyoneers in Echo Canyon had continued past the route closure to a 300 foot rappel without enough rope. With light fading, rangers decided to hold off until Wednesday to perform the rescue. Weeping Rock Trail was closed from 7:30 a.m. until 12:13 p.m. until the rescue was completed because of the fear of falling rock. Four SAR team members rappelled down to the group and helped them finish the descent safely.

At 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the park was called regarding an overdue party of two in the Left Fork of the Virgin River or “Subway.” A SAR team of five was dispatched Wednesday morning. One of the two hikers was suffering from a medical condition that made continuing impossible. The Grand Canyon helicopter was called in to shorthaul the patient out of the canyon. She was transported by Hurricane City ambulance and emergency personnel to Dixie Regional Medical Center. Zion’s wildland fire team also helped with the evacuation, which ended at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday.


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Follow-up On Fatal Climbing Fall

On the afternoon of October 23rd, dispatch received a telephone call reporting a fatal climbing fall. Jim Hewitt reported that he and his partner, well-known climber Todd Skinner, had been working on a first free ascent of the “Jesus Built My Hotrod” route on the overhanging west face of the Leaning Tower. Skinner’s fall occurred when he was rappelling. Hewitt told investigators that he had been above Skinner when he fell. As he was rappelling on the low-stretch ropes that they had fixed on the route, Hewitt came to Skinner’s Grigri descent device on the rope at the point where he’d fallen. The Grigri had a still-locked carabiner attached which had been connected to Skinner’s harness. When Skinner’s body was recovered, the belay loop on his harness was missing. The next day, rangers recovered a broken harness belay loop in vegetation at the base of the wall. It was very worn at the spot where the break had occurred. Hewitt later told investigators that Skinner was aware that the belay loop on his harness was in a weakened condition prior to the climb, and that they had talked about its poor condition three days earlier. [Submitted by Keith Lober, Emergency Services Coordinator]

read more in the San Francisco Chronicle


from the National Park Service Morning Report

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Climber Rescued From Giraud Peak

Joyce Lin, 20, fell and was seriously injured while climbing 12,608-foot-high Giraud Peak on Monday, August 7th. She was member of an organized climbing group doing the Sierra Challenge, which is to climb ten peaks in ten days. According to other party members, she fell 30 feet, then tumbled down a 40 degree snow field for 150 feet, then tumbled another 150 feet down a talus slope. Members of her party climbed down to her location; one man was sent out to Bishop (12 miles away) to report the accident to the Inyo County Sheriffs Office. A cell phone call was also placed by a member of the party from a high location, providing a brief report and general location before the signal was lost. A rescue team comprised of ranger John Anderson, Sierra Crest subdistrict ranger Debbie Brenchley and helitack crew member Carrie Vernon flew to the location in a park helicopter. One member of the climbing team used a silver-colored blanket to signal the helicopter. The helicopter was able to land on the snow at 11,300 feet, just below the point where the woman was lying. The rescue team climbed up to Lin, assessed her condition, and packaged her in full c-spine protection for transport. She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Her injuries included facial and head trauma – lacerations and fractures, two broken arms, and numerous other lacerations and contusions. Lin was carried across the loose rock field to the snow field. She was belayed across a section of snow, then lowered down the snow slope to the helicopter. Lin was flown to Bishop and transferred to Northern Inyo Hospital, where she is in serious but stable condition. [Submitted by Alexandra Picavet, Public Affairs Specialist]


from the National Park Service Morning Report Friday, June 06, 2003

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Climbing Fatality on Lower Cathedral Rock

On the morning of Saturday, May 31st, Chris Hampson, 25, of Breckenridge, Colorado, died while climbing the Overhang Bypass route on Lower Cathedral Rock in Yosemite Valley. Climbing a considerable distance above his last protection, Hampson took a leader fall of at least 80 feet and was caught by his partner, Sybille Hechtel. Hampson ended up around a corner from Hechtel and did not respond to her yells. Minutes after the fall another climber, Bob Jensen, happened upon Hechtel while free soloing the same route. Jensen climbed up to a point on the route where he could see Hampson hanging more than 40 feet below. Jensen called out to Hampson and encouraged him to try to climb back up. Hampson could not climb and appeared disoriented to Jensen. Hampson also said that he could not see. Without gear to descend to Hampson, Jensen down-climbed the route and then drove to the Valley SAR cache, where he reported the incident at 12:15 p.m. SAR team members responded and a paramedic was with Hampson by 1:57 p.m. Medical control at the Yosemite Medical Clinic pronounced Hampson dead via the radio at 2:12 p.m. Hampson’s body was lowered about 300 feet to a ledge. From there he was transported by long line under the park helicopter to the Crane Flat Helibase. Hampson received severe trauma to his head in the fall. He was not wearing a helmet.
[Submitted by Jack Hoeflich, IC]



from the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Climber Caught In Storm Dies Following Descent

On the morning of November 11th, Tuolumne ranger Jason Ramsdell encountered a man at the Cathedral trailhead who had just walked out of the backcountry during a snowstorm and was shivering uncontrollably. The man told Ramsdell that a friend was unconscious along the trail to Cathedral Peak and was probably dead from hypothermia. Ramsdell warmed the man, then launched a rescue operation. Rangers found the body of 43-year-old Peter Noble near the Budd Creek trail about a mile and a half above the Tioga Road just after 10 a.m. Although the investigation is still underway, it appears that Noble succumbed to the cold after climbing Cathedral Peak. The two men had become severely hypothermic while rappelling down after climbing the southeast buttress as blowing sleet and snow moved into the area in the early morning hours. Intending to be out of the backcountry by just after dark, the men did not have warm clothing with them and had not taken along much food. Equipment, including warm hats, matches and waterproof jackets, had been left behind near the base of the climbing route. [Submitted by Charles Cuvelier, Deputy Chief Ranger]


wildlife jams has advice from Yellowstone National Park on viewing wildlife and your safety at a traffic jam caused by many people wanting to see wildlife.

moose jam near entrance to Jackson lake lodge Sept. 2006:

from the NPS Morning Report

July 30, 2015

Acadia National Park (ME) Visitor Seriously Injured When Car Rolls Over Her

On the morning of July 27th, a 38-year-old visitor sustained potentially life-threatening injuries in an accident that occurred on the Park Loop Road near the Champlain North Ridge Trailhead.

Witnesses said that members of a family got out of their vehicle at a scenic pull-off along the road and that shortly thereafter the vehicle rolled backwards towards other vehicles, park visitors, and oncoming traffic. While family members attempted to stop it by pushing against the vehicle’s exterior, the driver attempted to reenter to apply the brakes.

The vehicle, however, gained momentum due to the steep slope and they were unable to stop it. In the process of attempting to enter the moving vehicle, the driver was knocked to the ground by the open car door and was subsequently overrun by the front wheel. The vehicle crossed the road and came to rest in the ditch and against the base of a cliff. The driver was transported by Bar Harbor Ambulance to a waiting Life Flight helicopter, where she was transported to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine.
Investigating rangers determined that the car’s shifter was not in the ‘park’ position. The driver sustained multiple chest injuries but is in stable condition.


from the NPS daily report April 12, 2006

Badlands National Park (SD)

Pedestrian Hit By Car, Life Saved

On April 12th, rangers were notified of a vehicle/pedestrian accident at the Yellow Mounds Overlook. Responding personnel determined that a pedestrian had been run over by a motor vehicle and was trapped beneath the vehicle. She was freed and basic life support was begun. A life flight was requested because she kept drifting in and out of consciousness. Air transport was expedited through the use of prearranged landing sites coordinated between the park and life flight. The woman was airlifted and taken to the Rapid City Regional Hospital, where she was treated for head, neck, spine and leg injuries.

Investigators determined that she had stepped out of her vehicle to take several photographs when she noticed that the vehicle was starting to roll. In an attempt to stop the moving vehicle, she reached through the open door to grab the gear shift lever, but was caught by the door and pulled beneath the vehicle. It then came to rest after striking a raised curb, trapping her underneath.


from the NPS daily report September, 2005

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)

Fatal Accident on Old River Road

A motor vehicle accident on the afternoon of September 12th claimed the life of John Whatmough, a 32-year-old visitor from Nashua, New Hampshire. The accident occurred on Old Fall River Road approximately one half mile above Chasm Falls.

The preliminary report indicates that Whatmough and his wife got out of the vehicle to take photographs. Their two-and-a-half year old son was in the backseat of the vehicle, restrained in a child safety seat.

The Hyundai began to roll backwards and Whatmough attempted to stop the car by opening the driver’s side door and getting in. The car traveled backwards for 25 feet down a steep, rocky embankment, dragging Whatmough along, before it came to rest. Whatmough sustained multiple traumatic injuries and died at the scene.

The child was uninjured. [Submitted by Kyle Patterson, Public Affairs Officer]


from the NPS daily report Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Yellowstone National Park (ID,MT,WY)

Three Injured in Accident at Bear Jam

Three park visitors were injured on the evening of June 10th when a vehicle struck them as they were watching two black bears grazing in a meadow near Calcite Springs, approximately one mile from Tower Junction in the northeast section of the park.

Just prior to the accident, a ranger directing traffic at the location noted that a number of visitors had parked their vehicles off to one side of the road, then crossed to the other side to better view the bears. The ranger was in the process of clearing traffic when he glanced behind him and saw an unoccupied white Chrysler PT Cruiser roll away from its parked position, cross both lanes of traffic, plow into the crowd, and continue down a ten-foot embankment.

One victim, a seven-year-old girl, was knocked down, run over, and partially trapped under the vehicle; two other victims – the seven-year-old’s sister (eleven years old) and an older male (age unknown) – were struck and knocked out of the way by the vehicle. Most of the spectators did not see the vehicle coming.

By the time the ranger reached the accident scene, bystanders had moved the seven-year-old out from under the vehicle. The ranger immediately called for assistance. Rangers and staff from throughout the northern portion of the park responded and provided emergency medical care. The two girls were transported by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls for additional care; the man was transported by ambulance to Livingston Memorial Hospital in Livingston. The seven-year old is listed in stable condition; she has two fractured ribs and some difficulty in breathing. Her sister was treated for an injury to her left arm and released. The man received some cuts and lacerations and was also treated and released. Park staff also provided emergency medical care for anxiety to two witnesses at the scene – one of them the owner of the vehicle, the other a woman visitor. Both were treated at the scene and released.
[Submitted by Public Affairs]



Cliff Jumping Accident August 14 2017
Date: August 15, 2017

“On the afternoon of August 14, 2017, National Park Service Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Dispatch received a report of a cliff jumping accident at Anchovy Point on Lake Powell in Coconino County, Arizona. Anchovy Point is a popular area for swimming and fishing and can be accessed from shore. It is located between the Glen Canyon Dam and the Wahweap Marina. A 25-year old male reportedly attempted a cliff jump of approximately 30 feet. Two witnesses accompanying the victim stated that after entering the water he resurfaced and attempted to swim but experienced difficulty due to the wind and wave conditions. The victim has been identified as E. Kallestewa of Hotevilla, Arizona.

Assisting at the scene of the accident were National Park Service personnel and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. A private vessel on scene assisted, who had witnessed one of the subjects attempting to rescue the victim. All three subjects were from Hotevilla, Arizona.

Due to the water depth in excess of 170 feet, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was dispatched to the area. Search efforts resumed during daylight hours on August 15. At approximately 10:45 a.m., Kallestewa’s body was recovered by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Dive Team and ROV specialists.

The incident is currently under investigation by the National Park Service, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.

On Saturday, September 16, NPS Dispatch received a call at approximately 10:45 a.m. from NPS Rangers who were assisting an 18-year old male. The patient was seriously injured after jumping from a 50 to 60 foot cliff into Lake Powell, in the Halls Creek Bay area. It was reported he did not initially resurface and friends swam down to get him. He was brought by vessel to the Bullfrog Marina, where he was airlifted by Classic Aviation to the St. George Hospital. The flight medic reported at approximately 3:40 p.m. that the patient had suffered an aortic rupture and was in very serious medical condition. The hospital has reported that the patient is in stable condition and will potentially be released within the next couple days.”


A Picture for Social Media Result in Injury and Carryout
October 14, 2014 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue

On Tuesday, September 2, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a cell phone call from a hiker on the Yosemite Falls Trail requesting help for a member of the hiker’s group. According to the hiker, a 28-year-old woman had slipped and fallen onto a rock. The subject had broken several teeth and was bleeding profusely. The hiker stated that the group was at Columbia Rock, which is approximately one mile up the Yosemite Falls Trail.

A ranger-paramedic started up the trail and located the subject approximately fifteen minutes up the trail. The subject had severely injured her mouth. Three other adults were with the subject. According to the hiker who reported the accident, while the group was at Columbia Rock, they decided to take a jumping photo to post on social media. The group of hikers, including the subject, had all jumped and tucked their legs behind them. When the subject landed, she slipped forward on gravel and face-planted on a rock. The group of hikers was able to start hiking down trail until they met up with the ranger-paramedic.

The ranger-paramedic administered pain medication to the subject. Typically, the medication makes people dizzy, so the ranger-paramedic requested a litter team to carry out the subject. A litter team was assembled and reached the subject within thirty minutes of the request.

Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) can extract an ill or injured party out of the backcountry on crutches, by horseback, or even by helicopter, but in most cases, YOSAR utilizes a litter carry out team. For this incident, a litter carry out was the best option. A litter team is comprised of at least six people (ideally more), a metal litter (the basket the subject lies in) and an ATV wheel that attaches to the bottom of the litter. The subject is strapped into the litter, the wheel is screwed onto the bottom of the litter, and then three people hold each side of the litter and guide the wheeled litter along the trail. Additional rescuers can act as a break for the litter, or the horsepower for the litter, pulling from either end of the litter depending on the slope of the terrain.

Because the subject was only fifteen minutes up the trail, six YOSAR personnel, in addition to the ranger-paramedic already on scene, could safely extract the subject. If the carryout had been longer, if the terrain had been more strenuous, or if the subject had been heavier, the litter team would have included more rescuers. While there is no exact formula for the number of rescuers to send on a litter carry out, more is usually better. Often, rescuers will have to maneuver difficult terrain in precarious areas, navigate in the dark or poor weather conditions, all the while attempting to get the subject to definitive care as quickly as possible. On the other hand, the incident command team is always mindful that in Yosemite it is not uncommon for multiple rescues to take place at the same time, and to adjust accordingly the number of rescuers committed to each rescue.

While the subject in this particular rescue fell while jumping, she could have just as easily suffered the same injury on the same trail while walking. Sloped, gravel-covered surfaces comprise the majority of the Yosemite Falls Trail, and ground-level falls are common. Be aware that even the most experienced hiker can turn an ankle or slip on any trail, and take care to stack the odds in your favor. While good preparation won’t guarantee you will complete your hike safely, it will greatly increase your chances of arriving at the trailhead injury free.

Wear sturdy footwear with good traction.

Drink plenty of water and eat snacks regularly.

Know your fitness level and pay attention to how you are feeling during your hike.

Tell someone responsible where you are going and when you expect to return.

hiker on rescue litter who was injured trying to take a jumping photo to post on social media


From the NPS Daily Report of Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)

Conviction For Illegal Mountain Biking

On January 20th, three men – David Yost, Sean Monterastelli, and Jacob Thompson – hiked out the Bright Angel Trail, backpacking out their mountain bikes.

The group of three cyclists told visitors that they were on a two-year-long mountain biking trip,
riding their bikes from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the tip of South America, and that they had carried their bikes across the canyon. They also told them to look at their web page.

Several days later, ranger Paul Austin checked out the page and discovered photos and video of the group riding their bikes on the North Kaibab Trail. In addition, there were photos and video of them camped on an upper section of the trail. In their journal, they wrote about riding the trail and their concern about being caught by rangers:

“(We) began riding down the trail…’Goat’ [one of the three] managed to bomb section after section of the trail, walking his bike only when coming into contact with other trail hikers, and when those infuriating water bars were too high to bunny hop…we were excited by the prospects of a day filled with epic downhill, we hopped on our bikes and headed down, sliding our way down a treacherous mix of snow and loose rock. Almost immediately I flew over a series of ledges and cracked the rear end off my Xtracycle.”

On February 16th, Austin and AUSA Camille Bibles presented a criminal complaint and affidavit before
US Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey in Flagstaff, who in turn issued a summons for the group to appear in his
court. Yost, Monterastelli and Thompson were charged with camping without a permit, camping in an undesignated area, use of a bicycle in a closed area, giving false information, and conspiracy. Austin tracked the individuals through their website as they rode to Southern Arizona and prepared to cross into Mexico. They had posted in their blog that they were attending the “24 Hours in the Old Pueblo,” a large and popular mountain bike race north of Tucson. Saguaro rangers Todd Austin and Heather Yates
drove to the event site on February 17th and were able to locate the trio. Austin posed as a freelance writer interested in the group’s trip, then later identified himself as a federal law enforcement ranger and issued each his summons to appear in court in Flagstaff.

The three men retained an attorney and subsequently reached a plea agreement to three charges.
In lieu of a $500 fine, the men agreed to donate $500 each to the Grand Canyon Search & Rescue Fund. They also agreed to redact sections of their website pertaining to illegal activities and were sentenced to 48 hours in Coconino County jail. The case generated considerable media attention. [Submitted by Bil Vandergraff, Supervisory Park Ranger, Canyon District]


From the NPS Daily Report of Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Teenager Injured In Serious Fall From Tower

On the afternoon of December 14th, David Hobson, 18, of Brentwood, Tennessee, fell about 30 feet from the Look Rock Tower, sustaining serious injuries. Hobson and three other teenagers had walked up the ramp to the top of the tower to take photos from the observation deck. The ramp has three landings on the way to the top. While returning, they stopped on the lower landing, which is about 30 feet from the ground. Hobson, responding to a challenge from one of his friends, climbed up on the concrete railing, then jumped to the lower, sloping concrete railing while his friends took photos of him. The distance between the two railings is about five feet. Hobson twice jumped successfully from one ramp the other; on the third attempt, though, his foot apparently caught on the railing as he jumped, causing him to miss the second railing. Hobson hung onto the railing for a brief moment, then slipped and fell to the bottom, hitting the concrete railing at the bottom of the tower and coming to rest on the concrete ramp. He suffered severe head trauma, a fractured pelvis, four fractured ribs, and damage to the ligaments in both arms. Hobson was flown by air ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where he remains in ICU in critical condition. [Submitted by Rick Brown, Assistant Chief Ranger]


NPS Daily Report Monday, September 27, 2004

“(65 feet is roughly 20 meters)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Fatal Cliff Jump

On Saturday, September 11th, 23-year-old John Hodges, an English national, jumped feet first off a 65-foot cliff into Lake Powell near Antelope Point Marina. Hodges was part of a Trek America tour and was visiting Glen Canyon for a day of swimming. He was the first to jump from the cliff. The tour director jumped in after Hodges in an attempt to find him when he failed to surface. Park divers searched the area to a depth of 100 feet but found no ledges for the body to rest on. The park’s remote-operated submersible vehicle (ROV) found and recovered Hodges’ body at a depth of 273 feet on Monday morning. In reviewing a digital video of Hodges’ jump, investigators noted that his body was bent forward at the time of entry and that he was looking down at his feet. During the autopsy, the medical examiner determined that he’d sustained a skull fracture and ruled that he was killed instantly from impact with the water. [Submitted by Mike Mayer, Chief Ranger]”

(From this height he may well have been moving at over 40 mph when he hit the water.)


no fires symbol: sign with a no fires symbol, a slash through a drawing of a campfire

From the National Park Service Morning Report of August 8, 2003

Grand Teton National Park (WY) Structural Fire at Colter Bay

David Aland, his wife, and two teenage daughters were staying at the concession-owned Colter Bay Tent Cabins on the night of July 15th. Although area temperatures had been unseasonably high, Aland decided to light a fire in the tent’s potbellied stove before the family went to bed at 11:30 p.m. After several unsuccessful attempts to light the fire with wood and paper, Aland removed a lid on the top of the stove and poured Coleman fuel into the opening. The smoldering fire immediately burst into flames and quickly spread to the tent walls and ceiling. The family evacuated the burning structure and the North District Fire Brigade was summoned. Nearby campers assisted by dousing the fire with extinguishers; fire brigade members put out the fire and conducted the investigation. Fortunately, Aland suffered only minor injuries, but the family clothing, camping gear and bicycles were destroyed. The tent-cabin is constructed of a combination of log and canvas walls with a canvas roof. The canvas was treated with a flame resistant coating that ensured the complete structure did not ignite and burn, but significant damage was incurred. [Submitted by Bill Holda, Acting Chief Ranger]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Visitor Seriously Burned in Accident –

On the evening of June 15th, a 31-year-old man from Lewisville, North Carolina, was camping in the Cosby campground with his 10-year-old son and two 14-year-old nephews. He directed the boys to fill their camping stoves from a can of white gas, which they did in an open area beside a fire ring. After filling the stoves, the man attempted to light a campfire within the fire ring, unaware that the boys had spilled some fuel on the ground. He started the fire with the white gas can still sitting beside the fire ring. The fuel on the ground ignited and set the can on fire. The man tried to kick it to the road with his left leg, but instead knocked it over. He kicked it again with his right leg, causing the fuel to splash on his legs and onto the ground, setting both his pants and the ground on fire. He patted his pants with his hand, then pulled them off. Other campers showed up and helped put the fire out. Witnesses said that there was a wall of fire about eight feet high. After receiving advice from other campers, the man got into his truck with the three boys and drove to Fort Sanders Hospital in Sevierville, about 30 miles away. He received initial treatment there, then was flown to the Chattanooga Burn Center. Doctors determined that he’d sustained second and third degree burns over about 50% of his body. Both of his legs, both arms, and his left hand were burned. He was scheduled to spend four days in the burn center, then to recuperate at home. Ranger Larry Hartman is the lead investigator for this incident.


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, September 28, 2006

Timpanogos Cave National Monument (UT)

Man Killed In Effort To Rescue Injured Child

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 24th, a three-year-old girl stepped too close to the edge of the cave trail and fell down a scree slope, coming to rest on a flat area about 75 feet below the trail.
The girl was with her mother, older sister and brother, and two male family friends, one from Russia and the other from the Ukraine. They’d just completed a cave tour and were heading back down the paved trail to the visitor center when the accident occurred.

Both family friends went down the slope to aid the girl. According to the man from the Ukraine, the man from Russia was moving very fast. He fell, and his momentum carried him past
the child and over the edge of a cliff, where he disappeared from view.

The interpretive ranger who had guided the family’s tour called for assistance and a second interpretive ranger responded. The park’s chief ranger and county dispatch were notified, and an emergency response was mobilized.
Several members of the county SAR team were soon on scene and a medevac helicopter was dispatched to the park.
A spotter in the helicopter located the man’s body in a drainage. When members of the rescue team reached his location, they found that he’d died of massive head and body trauma. A paramedic in the helicopter employed a hoist to extract the child, who was stabilized and flown by a second helicopter to
Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

SAR team members recovered the man’s body later that evening.

Doctors found that the child had suffered a severe laceration
to her forehead, but was free from fractures or internal bleeding.
She was released from the hospital the following day.

[Submitted by Kit Mullen, Superintendent]



from the National Park Service Morning Report, June 2, 2008

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)

Good Decisions Led To Fortunate Outcome For Backpackers

Following the happy conclusion of last week’s search for Alan Humphrey and his spouse, Irene Faraklas, rangers were able to learn what happened to them during their hike on the Royal Arch route. The couple was reported overdue from their backpacking trip on Sunday, May 25th, and a search began for them the next day. By May 28th, five days after they were expected to complete their trip, a number of ground crews were searching high-probability areas on foot, helicopter flight crews were searching drainages and rim areas increasingly distant from the couple’s anticipated route, and a technical team from Zion National Park was searching the lower Royal Arch Drainage using canyoneering techniques. Around 5 p.m. that day, a ground search team found the couple – tired, hungry, but otherwise in good condition – near the South Bass trail in the Royal Arch route area. Personnel working on the incident, and the couple themselves, attribute the fortunate outcome to being prepared and making good decisions. Humphrey and Faraklas had backpacked at the Grand Canyon before and were familiar with the rugged nature of the terrain and the changeable weather conditions (conditions during their 11 days in the canyon ranged from “temperatures in the 90s to hail and freezing,” according to Faraklas). While they had never hiked the Royal Arch route, they had done research on the route and had sought the advice of others who had previously hiked it. They set specific dates when they would be meeting people after their hike, and they made sure that at least one person knew what they planned to do while they were at the Grand Canyon. In spite of all of their preparations, on the last leg of their trip, they overshot their exit route and attempted to reach the rim via the wrong side canyon. Eventually, they realized they were lost – and to a degree stuck – but they didn’t panic. Instead, they assessed their situation, developed a plan, and made a commitment to stick with that plan no matter what. They first decided to be prepared for up to a week on their own and rationed their one day of remaining food accordingly. Then they found water and a source of shade and decided to stay put until help arrived or their meager supplies started to run out. Above all they made a decision to stick together. These decisions, it is believed, are a big part of why they here today. They shared the burden of decision making, they kept track of each other’s condition (physically, mentally and emotionally), they kept each other on track, and they stuck to the plan. Finally, as their rations began to run out, forcing a last ditch attempt to seek aid at the river, searchers and this resourceful pair of lost backpackers found each other. [Submitted by Shannan Marcak and Maureen Oltrogge, Public Affairs Officers]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Missing Hiker Found After Night In Mountains

Boyd Severson, 56, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was dropped off at the Lawn Lake trailhead to climb 13,425-foot-high Mummy Mountain at 7 a.m. on the morning of Monday, September 24th. He failed to return to the trailhead to meet his wife as scheduled that afternoon, and she reported him as overdue at 8 p.m. The weather above tree line on Monday was wintry (Trail Ridge Road was closed due to snow and ice on Sunday afternoon). The park began searching for Severson with hasty teams early on Tuesday morning. An area search by helicopter was begun at mid-morning and a dog team began working the area in the afternoon. No sign of Severson was found that day. At 6:30 p.m., a group of four searchers from the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group hiking into Lawn Lake encountered Severson, who was hiking out on the same trail. He was in good condition. They notified the incident command post that he’d been found – just as his wife and two other family members were arriving for an evening briefing. Severson arrived at the trailhead just after 8 p.m., where he conducted a brief interview with the media before being reunited with his wife and family at the ICP. He was debriefed by incident commander Cindy Purcell and her team. Severson said that he’d become disoriented in whiteout conditions while descending the peak and had entered the wrong drainage. After discovering his mistake, he tried to retrace his steps and ran out of daylight. He crawled into a small “cave,” stacked rocks around him, covered himself with a plastic bag, a “rescue blanket” and clothing items he had with him, and weathered the night above tree line while 60 to 70 mph winds blew through the area. Both of his water bottles froze solid. He stayed in place until 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when the weather had greatly improved and the sun had come out, then worked his way back toward the area he had come from, sat on a high point for three hours after seeing a helicopter, and finally made his way back to the Black Canyon and Lawn Lake trails, where he was found. He required no medical treatment. Media interest was considerable. [Submitted by Larry Frederick, Acting Public Affairs Officer]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Thursday, September 20, 2007

Olympic National Park (WA)

Missing Hiker Found After Two-Day Search

A search began on Tuesday for a solo hiker who was reported missing on Sunday, September 16th. James Strong, 60, had planned a seven-day trip through the Bailey Range, a well-known off-trail route through rugged and remote terrain. Strong was described by friends and family members as a strong and safety-conscious hiker who plans and prepares carefully for his hikes. A map and description of Strong’s itinerary, which he prepared before leaving home, provided searchers with important information about his planned route and camp sites. Strong was last seen on Monday, September 10th, when he left the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort to begin his hike at the Sol Duc trailhead. He planned to traverse the Bailey Range and end his hike on Sunday, September 16th, at the North Fork Quinault trailhead. Searchers concentrated their efforts along Strong’s intended route, with four observers searching from a helicopter and approximately 15 on the ground. The search ended happily around 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon when he was spotted by the crew of a helicopter near Bear Pass in the southern Bailey Range, about five miles north of Low Divide. The helicopter was able to land nearby. When searchers contacted Strong, they found that he was in relatively good condition, though sore and slightly injured from a minor fall. He was flown out of the park and was evaluated by ranger-EMTs. He declined further medical treatment. [Submitted by Barb Maynes, Public Affairs Officer]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Friday, June 08, 2007

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Search For Lost Couple Ends Successfully

A couple on a three-day hike into the High Sierra in Sequoia
NP in late May encountered a snowfield that covered the trail.
Unprepared to cross it, they made the right decision to hike an extra
18 miles and return to their vehicle by a snow-free route.
This, however, delayed the time of their expected return, and concerned family members accordingly contacted the park. About 20 rangers and California Highway Patrol officers began a search for them and a search helicopter was brought in.
The pair were spotted from the helicopter on May 29th as they made their way back to Mineral King.
They were within two miles of the trailhead, unhurt, but exhausted.
[Submitted by Alexandra Picavet, Public Affairs Specialist]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Monday, October 23, 2006

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)

Successful Search For Missing Backpacker

Searchers found a missing backpacker on the afternoon of Friday, October 20th, bringing an intensive two-day search to a successful conclusion. Sarah Heitman began her hike on the Northern Loop trail on Saturday, October 14th, and planned on completing the trip this past Tuesday. Snow and fog caused her to become disoriented on the third day of the hike, though, and she ended up off-trail on Winthrop Creek north of the Wonderland trail and below Skyscraper Mountain. Unable to locate the trail despite searching for hours over rough terrain, she set up camp and waited for searchers to find her. Searchers discovered her footprints and followed them along Winthrop Creek, but were forced to turn back after encountering treacherous conditions. The search was continued from the air, and Heitman was found just after 1 p.m. last Friday. She was in good condition. She’d planned to ration her remaining food to last up to 14 days, allowing herself just one meal per day. Heitman had left her itinerary with roommates, including the date she expected to return to school at the University of Puget Sound. She is experienced in outdoor skills and is trained as an EMT. Her preparation for this trip contributed to the success of the search and her survival. Approximately 80 people were assigned to this incident. Assisting park staff were personnel from Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue, German Shepherd Search Dogs, Northwest Helicopters, King County Guardian Helicopter, and Olympic and North Cascades National Parks. [Submitted by Patti Wold, Incident Information Officer]


From the National Park Service Morning Report of Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)

Missing Hiker Found

On Wednesday, May 31st, rangers began a search for a 48-year-old Louisiana man. A missing person report had been filed on him the previous Monday, and rangers found his vehicle on Wednesday at the Colorado River trailhead. On Thursday, an employee of the Water Supply and Storage Company, which manages the nearby Grand Ditch water diversion, was hiking in the area and came upon what he believed was an “SOS” symbol marked out in the snow. He notified park staff, and searchers flew to the area and confirmed that he was correct. The searchers continued to fly over the area and soon found the missing man sitting on a rock, flagging the helicopter. The location where he was found was near the point where the Little Yellowstone trail intersects with the Grand Ditch, about six miles from the Colorado River trailhead. They dropped a radio, food and water to him. Ground searchers arrived shortly thereafter, found that he was mobile, and helped him to a nearby road. He was taken to Grandby Medical Center and kept overnight for observation. The man’s wife and son traveled to the park from Louisiana and were reunited with him. Park staff are still trying to determine how many days the man was in the park’s backcountry before he was found. Approximately 50 people were involved in the search. Rangers were assisted by personnel from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand County SAR, Grand Lake Fire Protection District, Larimer County SAR and the Colorado SAR Board. [Submitted by Kyle Patterson and Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialists]


From the NPS Daily Report of Monday, October 25, 2004

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)

Major Storms Lead To Numerous Rescues

A series of severe fall storms rolled across the Sierra Nevada during the five-day period from October 16th to the 20th, bringing up to four feet of snow and temperatures in the teens at higher elevations and stranding dozens of unprepared backpackers.

An incident management team was established to oversee the park’s response and moved from one incident to another over the five days. In so doing, the parks worked closely with other agencies, including the Inyo and Fresno County Sheriff’s offices, the Forest Service and several volunteer SAR groups.

Here’s a summary of some of the responses:

Janssen SAR ­ The parks received a report of a lone, overdue hiker in the Evolution/LeConte area of Kings Canyon. The hiker was experienced but poorly equipped. The weather was severe at the outset of the operation ­ air searches were not possible and ground crews were hampered by whiteout conditions. On Thursday, a weather window opened, permitting a helicopter to search high probability areas. The hiker was found at a backcountry cabin that he had forcibly entered. Another hiker had joined him at a rock overhang cave in Upper LeConte Canyon for two days, then the pair moved to the cabin. They spent two days there constructing makeshift snowshoes with the intent of hiking out of the backcountry. Both were in good health.

Smith SAR ­ At the same time as the Janssen SAR, a report was received of a group of four overdue hikers ­ two men and two women ­ who were on a multi-day trail and cross country trip to Mount Whitney in Sequoia NP. They were reported to be moderately experienced and fairly well equipped. Ground teams began the search, with aircraft again grounded due to bad weather. The foursome was found at Sky Blue Lake by a helicopter on Thursday morning. They had hunkered down at this location when the first storm hit and spent five days in a tent there, semi-buried in snow drifts, unable to move and vociferously discussing their predicament. All were in good health.

Richard SAR ­ While the above two groups were being evacuated and debriefed, a report came in of an older couple who were out on a ten-day backpack and were overdue in the area south of Mount Whitney in Sequoia NP. An air search was started while more detailed plans were being developed. Investigation revealed that the individuals were moderately experienced and fairly well equipped and in good physical condition for their age. During the search for the couple, another lone camper/hiker was seen waving for assistance in the adjacent Inyo NF. He was picked up by the helicopter and evacuated. The air search then resumed. An observer in the helicopter spotted a tarp laid out in a meadow; when it landed, the couple came out of their tent and asked to be evacuated. They were flown out as darkness fell Thursday evening. Both were in good health.

Marek SAR ­ During the Richard SAR, a report came in of a hiker who was overdue from a hike through the Baxter Pass area of Kings Canyon NP. His truck was found at the trailhead. Searchers determined that Richard Marek, who’d worked many years as a seasonal trail worker and mason at Saguaro NP, was in excellent physical condition and was a very experienced backpacker and climber with a good deal of mountaineering experience in all seasons. He reportedly was always well equipped when hiking. The search area was very large, as he’d failed to obtain a permit or inform others of his route. Tracks leading back to and over Baxter Pass toward the trailhead were spotted from the air just before noon. A ground crew worked its way up to the pass form the trailhead and contacted Marek around 2 p.m. on Friday. He was in good health and hiked out with searchers.

As of the time of the report, the park had rescued/evacuated ten people. As of late Friday, no other hikers or campers were known to be in need of assistance. The incidents were managed under ICS, with Kern subdistrict ranger Bud Walsh as IC, assisted by plans chief Debbie Brenchley, operations chief Erika Jostad, logistics chief Jason Bauwens, and air ops chief John Ziegler. [Submitted by Gregg Fauth, Acting Chief Ranger]


Yosemite National Park News Release
May 8, 2002
For Immediate Release
Overdue Hikers Rescued in Yosemite National Park
Two overdue hikers were successfully rescued after being spotted by helicopter searchers on Tuesday, May 7.
Robert Axelrod, 28, of Redondo Beach, and Chau Pham, 27, of Los Angeles planned a three -day backpacking trip in the Wawona District, which is in the southern part of the park. Their trip went awry when they lost the trail in snowy conditions. They initially tried to follow a drainage, but realizing they were lost, waited for a rescue. Axelrod and Pham were hungry and dehydrated, but otherwise in good condition after being rescued Tuesday afternoon.
Yosemite National Park Rangers were notified late Monday night by concerned friends and family when the pair did not return to work on Monday. A search was initiated Tuesday with as many as 40 personnel working for the rescue effort.

Helicopter searchers followed the pair’s tracks in the snow, which ultimately led them to the lost hikers.

This incident had a positive outcome because they had the right gear and clothing but mainly because they stopped and stayed in one spot once they knew they were lost,” said Ranger Lulis Cuevas, who served as the Incident Commander for this incident. “Terrain in this area is extremely rugged and the hikers could have easily hurt themselves while looking for the trail.”


Hiking Advice has hot weather hiking advice, hiking logistics and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?

sign please do not put trash in toilets:

Leave no trace camping has these basic principles:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

examples and details of how easy this can be are at: Leave no trace
Top reasons not to speed in a National Park

Yosemite National Park regulations, policies and rules links includes the answers to the questions:

How much will I have to pay for my ticket in Yosemite?

Will I have to go to court?

HIKING SECRETS and etiquette on the hiking advice page include hiking in the heat, preventing and/or dealing with blisters, logistics of hiking, a day hike gear list, Half Dome hiking advice, winter hiking and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


hiker on rescue litter who was injured trying to take a jumping photo to post on social media

The there is no guarantee of rescue webpage
includes accident prevention tips many people who are experienced hikers and backpackers do not know about.

icon says plan to lose internet and cell phone reception

Half Dome hike advice could also be worth reading.
helicopter over Half Dome

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