The body of a 67-year-old man was found at the Grand Canyon earlier today, making him the third visitor who fell at the popular tourist destination in the last three weeks.
If you have plans on exploring the Grand Canyon rim, then this might give you a second thought.
Dying from heat or dehydration is more common than falling off the edge in the Grand Canyon, but it has become the primary concern of authorities today, according to the National Park Guides.
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. It is one of the world’s premier natural attractions which attract about five million visitors per year with 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of 6.093 feet or 1,857 in meters. The sharp edges and steep rock formation of the place make it susceptible to accidents which result in fetal deaths.
Park rangers responded to a call shortly before noon on Wednesday reporting that someone had fallen over the South Rim. The park’s helicopter and technical rescue team did the immediate search which recovered the man’s body east of the Yavapai Geology Museum at about 2 in the afternoon, local time.
A spokesperson for the park did not identify the man but indicated that he was from California. Although the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner are investigating the death as what authorities said, the public believes that the park officials are responsible for ensuring the safety of every tourist.
According to CNN News, two people died in the Grand Canyon area late last month in separate accidents that included one man who stumbled over the edge of the rim while trying to have his pictures taken at the Grand Canyon West, a popular tourist destination on the Hualapai reservation outside the boundaries of the national park.
The destination has a long history of death by falling over the past years. According to the Arizona Daily Sun in 2015, out of 55 who have accidentally dropped from the rim of the canyon, 39 were male. Eight of those men were hopping from one rock to another or posing for pictures, including a father who pretended to fall to scare his daughter but ended up dying 400 feet below the rim.
On April 30, 2015, a 29-year-old Nevada man died after falling 400-feet on a rim trail east of Mather Point where the visitor center is located, and visitors often get their first look at the Grand Canyon. The fall was ruled accidental by the authorities.
On March 2017, a 30-year-old from Iowa also fell to his death off the rim west in Mather Point. His friends and family reported the scene at the KCCI News that the victim was posing for a photo when he lost his balance and fell backward to his death. The body was recovered 280 feet below the rim.
About 12 deaths happen each year at the Grand Canyon, including from natural causes, medical problems, suicide, heat, drowning and traffic crashes, according to the National Park Guides report. On average, two to three deaths per year are from falls over the rim, park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski says. Grand National Park has a total of more than 318 million recreational visits to national parks in 2018, according to the National Park Service. It was down 3.8 percent from the 330 million the year before, making it the third highest year for tourist visits.
The number of deaths raises questions to public safety and how the National Park implements its guidelines, as well as, recognizes security issues. Phil Francis, head of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks defended their personnel and the management indicating that last week, there has been a “fairly dramatic” decline in the number of employees at parks.
Francis also added that the parks are trying to do everything they can; the question is how much it can do with limited resources and less workforce. He even warned travelers and adventure-seekers to understand first the geographical features of the Grand Canyon before going on to the actual place and know the possible safety hazards to prevent further unwanted accidents.
The data shows that most accidents happened when a tourist tries to take a picture. While photography can be a beautiful part of a visitors experience to the Grand Canyon, your life is still precious. No matter how breathtaking the scenery is and might serve as a nice souvenir, it’s also a life-threatening situation to be in. It’s important always to ask yourselves if the photo is worth dying for.
Photo: Tony Hisgett