A 56-year-old man plunged to his death in Sequoia National Park in California on Memorial Day when he lost his balance on a summit of Mount Russell, falling 500 feet.
A 45-year-old woman who was part of his hiking group reached out to try to grab him and was dragged down herself, but miraculously survived after somehow falling only 30 feet – where rescuers saved her.
The National Park Service announced the death of the hiker on Tuesday. It hasn’t released his name or the name of the woman.
It’s unclear what led the man to lose his balance and slip from the mountain’s ridge.
Mount Russell is located on the eastern boundary of Sequoia National Park, which itself is located near Visalia, California.
The mountain tops out at 14,094 feet, the seventh-highest peak in all of California. It is a mile north of Mount Whitney, which is significantly more well-known and is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.
The San Jose native was part of a three-person hiking group, with a 45-year-old woman from Milpitas trying to rescue and grab the man after he lost his balance.
She also fell from Mount Russell’s ridge but managed to stop her fall somehow after just 30 feet.
The third member of the hiking group then used a satellite device emergency locator beacon to declare an emergency before calling 911.
Helicopter 551 from Yosemite National Park responded to the distress call because a closer rescue team was dealing with an unrelated incident with a hiker who was unconscious.
When the rescue team arrived, they were able to extract the female victim from the ledge she was on.
The woman's companion fell approximately 500 feet from the ridge on the eastern boundary of Sequoia National Park and died. https://t.co/xjghueKy8E— KOLO8 (@KOLO8) June 2, 2021
She was taken to a hospital before being airlifted to a hospital in Reno, Nevada for surgery.
In October, the law firm Panish Shea & Boyle LLP released an analysis looking at the most deadly at national parks in the United States.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks ranked 11th on their list, with 66 deaths recorded between 2007 and 2018.
There were 19,869,972 visits to the park over that time, adding up to 33.22 deaths for every 10 million visits.