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Falling Fatality

Canyonlands National Park

National Park News

Shortly after midnight on November 2nd, a dispatcher at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office was contacted via an On Star system vehicle distress call. The caller reported that a man about 37 years old from Nederland, Colorado, had accidentally fallen over a 40-foot cliff within the park (inside San Juan County) and sustained fatal injuries. The sheriff’s office contacted the park’s chief ranger and a coordinated response was begun. The victim had been on a bike ride with 13 friends and acquaintances on the White Rim Road within the park. They were camped at Murphy’s campsite when the accident occurred. The site is reachable by ground via a difficult six-hour drive in a four-wheel-drive vehicle or by a strenuous two-hour hike. Responding rangers completed the hike around 4 a.m., contacted members of the group, secured the scene and began an investigation. Two San Juan County officers responded after first light in a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter, which was used to recover the victim’s body via a long-line operation. It was delivered to the county coroner at a helispot at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center. Alcohol consumption may have contributed to the accident;  the investigation is continuing.


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