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Rescues up in Eaton Canyon, where two hikers recently died

August 8, 2011 |  9:05 am

Brian Selva, 21, of Montebello floats in the pool below the waterfall in Eaton Canyon. Two people have died recently attempting to climb the steep cliffs near the waterfall in Angeles National Forest.

Rescues in the Angeles National Forest are already up over the annual average –- the result of heavy crowds, treacherous terrain and swollen waterfalls.

Charles Ballard, a volunteer with the Altadena mountain rescue team, said his team typically conducts 30 to 40 rescues annually, but already has done 48 this year.

Two hikers plunged to their deaths recently in the popular Eaton Canyon section of Angeles National Forest, prompting authorities to urge people to use caution and be wary when climbing near waterfalls.

The area is popular with novice hikers, families with small children and dog walkers because of its gentle trails and refreshing mountain streams.

"If they stay on the canyon bottom, it's just boulder hopping. You've got to be careful that you don't twist an ankle," Ballard said. "But if you get off the canyon bottom and try to go around the first falls, that is extremely dangerous."

From there, it's a steep, slippery climb up a sheer mountain face.

"It's narrow, it's loose and it's treacherous," Ballard said.

Early Saturday, a 23-year-old Montclair man fell from a cliff near one of the falls and later died, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said. A female companion tried to help him but got stuck and was airlifted out by a rescue crew. She had minor injuries.

On July 31, a man lost his footing and fell 35 feet to the rocky canyon bottom. He was taken to a hospital but died a short time later of his injuries.

Another man broke his legs when he fell Thursday.

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-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Brian Selva, 21, of Montebello floats in the pool below the waterfall in Eaton Canyon. Two people have died recently attempting to climb the steep cliffs near the waterfall in Angeles National Forest. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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