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Hiker deaths in Angeles National Forest prompt warning

August 7, 2011 |  8:18 am


The deaths of two hikers in the last week, including one Saturday, in the popular Eaton Canyon section of Angeles National Forest have prompted a warning from officials.

People often underestimate the power of Mother Nature, L.A. Sheriff's Sgt. Debra Herman said, hiking on trails well beyond their skill level. County emergency personnel have been responding daily to incidents in Eaton Canyon, Herman said.

“The only day this week we did not have a rescue was Tuesday,” she said.

The waterfalls in Eaton Canyon are swollen after a wet winter, Herman said, drawing large numbers of people to the trail. But even public safety officials don’t climb without careful preparation, she said.

“It is absolutely beautiful, and especially with the rain we had last year we have a lot of water,” Herman said. “But you have to be prepared. It is very steep, and you need to respect the area and know what you are doing before you go up there.”

A rescue team was dispatched about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday after a man fell from a cliff near a waterfall in Eaton Canyon. A female companion tried to help the man but got stuck. She was airlifted out by a rescue crew and taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital with minor injuries, Herman said.

At least two hikers who witnessed the man’s fall tried to administer first aid and perform CPR before the rescue teams arrived, Herman said. The man was pronounced dead at 10 a.m.

On July 31, a 28-year-old man fell from a trail near one of the park’s waterfalls and died from his injuries.

Most recent rescues have involved visitors who are lost or hikers who have fallen, Herman said. The area has experienced an influx of visitors because the natural setting is particularly beautiful at this time of year.

“We work in a place where people go to enjoy the terrain, it is the mountains, it’s not too far away. It’s beautiful because of all the rain we had ... and we haven’t had the blasting heat,” she said. “[But] you’re not invincible when it comes to Mother Nature.”


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-- Megan O'Neil and Samantha Schaefer

Photo: Eaton Canyon falls. Credit: KTLA News