SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Ash Mountain / Foothills
September 28— A drone was observed flying over the Ash Mountain Helibase. Rangers were unable to locate the operator. (Drones are banned in national parks. In addition, unmanned aircraft can interfere with official aviation operations so are not allowed near airports or helicopter pads.)
—Rangers conducted boundary and hunting enforcement patrols. September 29— Law enforcement rangers responded to Potwisha Campground where a large church group that did not have a reservation were waking up campers around 2:30 a.m., looking for places to camp. They found the group attempting to camp in the amphitheater. The group eventually left as there were no campsites available.
—Buckeye Flat Campground closed for the season on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
September 28— An injured 28-year-old male was evacuated by helicopter to the Ash Mountain Helibase.
September 28— Reported by hikers via satellite texting device, a 49-year-old male who was separated from his party the day before in the Kern Hot Springs area reported an injury and a missing person. Searchers located the missing party on September 30, hiking out on the Franklin Pass trail back to Mineral King. He had fallen into the water and was injured on September 27; by September 30 he was able to walk again. He was picked up by family members after refusing medical aid.
September 30— A hiker injured her ankle near Eagle Lake. Search-and-rescue personnel responded with crutches and assisted her to the trailhead.
September 28— A 57-year-old male sought assistance from the Crabtree ranger with a complaint of difficulty breathing and changes to his vision. The ranger and patient spoke with a doctor at Community Regional Medical Center (Fresno), who advised that the patient should be flown out and transported to a hospital. The patient refused to be flown out if he couldn’t go to where his vehicle was located. Based on a number of factors including other pending search-and-rescue missions, he was only offered a flight to an ambulance in Ash Mountain. He chose to ignore the advice of the ranger and emergency room physician and left with his group.
KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK
October 6— Rangers contacted a vehicle for failing to stop at the entrance station and found a 19-year-old male driving without a driver’s license. His 15-year-old female passenger claimed to be his “niece,” however the rangers quickly grew suspicious. The girl refused to provide a phone number to contact her parents, and she was ultimately transported to her home in Orange Cove where local police were in the process of taking a missing person report from her mother.
October 7— Rangers and Engine 51 responded to a vehicle fire on Highway 180 near Happy Gap. The vehicle was fully involved upon their arrival.
September 29— A 59-year-old male with possible altitude illness activated his SPOT device SOS near LeConte Ranger Station. The patient was evacuated by helicopter to Ash Mountain Helibase and transferred to a ground ambulance.
October 2— Two individuals were reported overdue from a trip to climb Charlotte Dome. No associated permit was found, and their vehicles were not located at Roads End (Cedar Grove). They were then reported as having exited and not needing assistance after an extra night out. They had entered/exited from the Sierra’s east side.
October 8— Late in the evening, park dispatch received a report of a missing person near Kearsarge Pass. The reporting party stated that they had last seen their friend near Glen Pass and that he may have had the flu. The subject hiked out on his own the next day as aerial reconnaissance was being organized.
Fire Management Branch:
—Fire staff worked on and completed the Sequoia Creek Prescribed Burn last week (264 acres; ignited Monday, Sept. 25).
—Crews are preparing for the Lost Grove Prescribed Burn (669 acres; Sunday, Oct. 15, ignition planned).
—All seasonal staff has closed out for the season.
—The Wilderness office is now only staffed by the Wilderness Assistant. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS:
There have been 16 fatalities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this year (this tally includes the Giant Sequoia National Monument area between the parks and the eastern Sierra crest that straddles Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Inyo County).
Ramiro Leon, 29, of Morro Bay died Friday, April 21, after he fell from the snowy upper reaches of the Mountaineer’s Trail on Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park.
Karissa Jones, 21, of Tulare died Saturday, April 22, when she fell into the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River near the Hospital Rock Picnic Area in Sequoia National Park.
Tomas Martinez, 18, of Woodlake died Sunday, April 30, when he was swept away in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in the foothills of Sequoia National Park.
Dongying “Cindy” Qiu, 27,of San Marino died Tuesday, May 23, on the Inyo National Forest side of Mount Whitney when she fell about 60 feet through a snow chute at the top of a waterfall.
Kendra Perez, 26, a UCLA graduate student, drowned June 18 when she slipped into Silliman Creek where it bisects the Twin Lakes trail in the Lodgepole area of Sequoia National Park.
An eight-year-old child died Friday, Aug. 4, in a solo vehicle accident on the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park.
Rika Morita, 32, of Japan, a solo northbound thru-hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, drowned sometime between July 12 and July 22 during an attempt to cross the South Fork of the Kings River in the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park between Pinchot and Mather passes (PCT mile 867).
Pakapol Bhakapon Chairatnathrongporn, a 28-year-old male, and Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, a 24-year-old female, both exchange students from Thailand attending South Florida University, died July 26 when their vehicle left the Highway 180 roadway and plunged into the Kings River in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area located between the boundaries of Kings Canyon National Park.
A husband and wife from China, Yinan Wang, 31, currently residing in San Diego, and Jai Song, 30, who was visiting her husband, died August 6 when their vehicle left the Highway 180 roadway and plunged into the Kings River in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area located between the boundaries of Kings Canyon National Park.
Luca Chiarabini, 47, of San Diego died August 3 when he drowned in an attempt to cross the Kings River with safety equipment and a rope at Yucca Flat in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area located between the boundaries of Kings Canyon National Park.
Tom Zajicek, 66, of Durango, Colo., died August 6 in a climbing accident on the Inyo County side of Starlight Peak, which shares a boundary with Kings Canyon National Park.
Tom Fennessy, 55, of Phoenix, Ariz., died August 9 as the result of a fall while attempting a solo ascent of the Sill-to-Thunderbolt Traverse. The climber’s remains were located at the base of Thunderbolt Peak on the Inyo County side of the Palisade crest, which shares a boundary with Kings Canyon National Park.
Jeffrey Brown, 37, of San Juan Capistrano died August 19 when he fell while hiking off trail in steep terrain on the north side of Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park.
Scott Davis, 62, of Ridgecrest was hiking the John Muir Trail with his son when he he sustained fatal injuries on August 14 due to a fall in the Golden Staircase section of the trail located north of Mather Pass in Kings Canyon National Park.
In 2016, there were 12 fatalities in Sequoia-Kings Canyon, most of which were falls while hiking, backpacking, or climbing. There were no river drownings last year. Drowning is the number-one cause of death in Sequoia-Kings Canyon.