A body, since identified as missing hiker Dawson Johnson was spotted by a helicopter in Sequoia National Park on the north slope of Mt. Whitney (approximately 13,300 feet in elevation) just before nightfall on Wednesday, July 30. Johnson, 75, a longtime Texarkana College professor, is believed to have fallen approximately 1,100 feet from the north side of the peak in a rocky and steep area.
The cause of the accident is under investigation. The victim’s remains have been transferred to the Tulare County Coroner’s Office.
Johnson, who was from Redwater, Texas, had been on a lengthy backpacking trip in the wilderness of Sequoia National Park with his wife, Sandra, since the school year ended in May. The couple was within miles of the end of their journey. But on Tuesday, July 29, Johnson decided to hike on his own from Guitar Lake to Mt. Whitney and planned to return to the Lower Crabtree Meadow area of the park.
He was last seen by other hikers between Trail Crest and the summit of Mt. Whitney at approximately 3 p.m. that day. On Wednesday, his wife hiked to the Crabtree Meadow backcountry ranger station to report that her husband had not returned as scheduled.
A total of 39 National Park Service employees from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks worked on search-and-rescue, then recovery operations from July 30 to August 1.
Another hiker’s remains on Mount Whitney were found in June. John Likely, 60, of Dumont, N.J., died after falling 50 feet into a steep chute near Mirror Lake. Authorities said they believe Likely saw the lake and tried to take a more direct route to his destination, Outpost Camp, before falling.
See original story published August 1, 2014: http://www.kaweahcommonwealth.com/news/search-and-rescues-parks