Sequoia National Park rangers received a report on Saturday, February 15, 2020, of an adult male who fell off a rock slab along the Middle Fork Trail in the vicinity of Panther Creek. The Middle Fork trailhead is located two miles east of Hospital Rock via the road to Buckeye Flat Campground (currently closed) in the foothills area of the park; the Panther Creek crossing is three miles from the trailhead.
Bystander CPR was initiated, and the reporting party hiked out to the front country for assistance. A search-and-rescue response was initiated. With the help of CHP H-40 (helicopter), rangers located the subject and found him deceased. CHP H-40 conducted a hoist mission to remove the subject from the scene. Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and Tulare County Fire Department personnel assisted with the recovery.
The deceased victim has been identified by the Tulare County Coroner as Evan Gillett, 22, of Torrance, Calif. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to his head. The Coroner added that the victim fell into water and had sufficient water in his lungs to drown because his injury prevented him from being able to get out of the water.
Here is Evan Gillett’s obituary.
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Here are the other incidents and events that occurred in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks during Presidents Day Weekend 2020:
Sequoia National Park
02/14/2020: Rangers stopped a vehicle for failure to maintain lane. The female passenger had a felony warrant for a drug and probation violation out of Tulare County. Rangers transported the female to the Bob Wiley Detention Center. She was also cited for possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
02/13/2020: Rangers responded to a report of a fire burning along the High Sierra Trail. They located the fire, approximately 30’ x 30’ burning along the forest floor in the Giant Forest. Wildland fire crews were dispatched. The cause is under investigation.
Holiday Weekend Visitation
Ash Mountain Entrance Station had wait times of up to 1 hour, 40 minutes, on Saturday and 1 hour, 20 minutes, on Sunday. Up to 250 cars were waived through Saturday and 105 cars waived through Sunday. Wait times and waiving large amounts of cars was mostly due to the need to expedite entry for emergency vehicles (Saturday; see lead incident above) and holiday weekend increase in visitation.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, there were 998 recreational entries through the Ash Mountain Entrance Station, plus an additional 250 vehicles waived through. Including the waived cars, this represents a 325.9% increase from the equivalent Saturday 2019 and a 4.3% decrease from 2018.
On Sunday, Feb. 16, there were 1,156 recreational entries through Ash Mountain Entrance Station, plus 105 vehicles waived through. Including the waived cars, this represents a 177.8% increase from the equivalent Sunday 2019 and 1.6% decrease from 2018.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, there were 398 recreational entries through Big Stump Entrance Station. This represents a 68.6% increase from the equivalent Saturday 2019 and 17.7% decrease from 2018.
On Sunday, Feb. 16, there were 517 recreational entries through Big Stump Entrance Station. This represents a 221.1% increase from the equivalent Sunday 2019 and 8.6% increase from 2018.
Overall, there were short wait times at the Big Stump Entrance Station throughout the holiday weekend.
Campgrounds: Potwisha Campground in the Sequoia foothills was busy and full over most of the weekend. Azalea Campground in Grant Grove (Kings Canyon) was fully occupied on Saturday evening.