Morning Report Excerpts - 2000 Third Part
The Morning Report includes accidents and incidents in the National Park System. Here are some reports you might find interesting.
00-563 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue
Robert Wainwright, a 55-year-old visitor from England, was descending a slope in Hidden Canyon around 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of September 4th when he lost control while sliding down a rock face and sustained a compound fracture of his lower right leg. The accident was reported to the park and initial responders were on scene by 5 p.m. they found Wainwright in a small alcove at the base of a 30-foot rock obstacle. Park medics treated him and prepared him for a three-quarter-mile technical carryout down the canyon to the Observation Point trail. The carryout team arrived at the Weeping Wall parking lost at 8:30 p.m. and transferred Wainwright to an ambulance. He was taken to a hospital in St. George. This was the third visitor injury in a week requiring an evacuation from a slot canyon. [Chuck Passek, Chief of Operations, ZION, 9/5]
00-571 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue
Anne Gates, 26, and Quentin Casperson, 25, were rescued from a slot canyon on North Creek on Wednesday, September 6th. Gates and Casperson headed out for a three-day canyoneering trip down the right fork of the creek on September 2nd. By mid-morning on the 3rd, they realized that they were off-route in a difficult slot canyon with numerous pools. Once they realized that they were lost and that they were unable to either climb back up or continue down the canyon, they stopped and waited for rescuers. They were reported overdue when they failed to appear for work; the park was notified late on Tuesday afternoon. A helicopter search was begun and they were found after a space blanket was spotted in the bottom of the narrow canyon. The helicopter landed nearby and rangers rappelled to the pair. They were uninjured but out of food and water (their water filter had clogged). Rangers taught them how to ascend a rope and assisted them out of the 400-foot-deep canyon. Five rangers and two helicopters were used in the operation. Canyoneering is a sport requiring special equipment and a variety of skills, including map reading, rappelling, ascending ropes, and prior experience. Said ranger Kurt Spears: "Rappelling is not the only skill needed to safely negotiate these canyons. We're seeing a lot of people without skill or experience. You can't rely on just reading a route description." [Denny Davies, PIO, ZION, 9/7]
FILM AT 11
Today's edition of USA Today has a front page story entitled "A Scarcity of Silence: It's Becoming Harder To Find Tranquility At Nation's Parks." Reporter Traci Watson writes: "Americans visit the national parks expecting tranquility, a little respite from the hurly-burly of everyday suburban life. But unless they're among the few who venture into the backcountry, they don't always find the peace and quiet they seek. Even at isolated parks, the sounds of
civilization - the internal-combustion engine, the car alarm, the jackhammer - intrude on
the visitor's ear. Too often lost in the hubbub are the wind in the trees and the singing birds." See the paper for the full text.
00-618 - Zion NP (UT) - Search and Rescue
On the evening of September 24th, rangers were notified that 48-year-old Brian Stephens was overdue from a hike in the park. Stephens' wife took them to the point where she'd dropped him off just after noon, a spot four miles south of the Orderville Canyon trailhead between Eglestead and Birch Hollows. Stephens had been on foot for 10 hours at the time of the report and was not prepared for an extended trip. A search was begun the following morning; a dog team and later a helicopter were utilized. Stephens was found by helicopter at 11 a.m. He was uninjured but stuck several hundred feet below the rim of Eglestead Hollow. Stephens had rappelled down several cliff bands, but did not have the requisite equipment to continue. The park's technical rescue team was flown in by helicopter. Stephens was raised to the rim and evacuated. The guide book that Stephens was using did not provide him with adequate information to find the correct route. [Scott Brown, IC, ZION, 9/27]
PARKS AND PEOPLE - September 29, 2000
Zion NP (UT) - The park is seeking three commissioned GS-9 park rangers. The positions are advertised on USAJobs under announcements Zion-Merit-10 and 11. One will serve as a supervisor in the fee program branch and supervise up to eight permanent and seasonal visitor use assistants, two seasonal protection rangers, and three campground hosts. He/she will also be responsible for supervising the operation of two 150-site campgrounds and sharing daily operation of all fee operations with three other supervisory VUA's. Law enforcement and EMS duties are conducted in conjunction with district operations. Other emergency service duties will be assigned depending on skills, interests and division needs. Park housing may be available. Contact Scott Brown at 435-772-0177 for more information. The other two positions are located in the Canyon District and include the full range of law enforcement, resource protection and emergency service duties. Both of these positions are required occupancy. Contact Brent McGinn at 435-772-0187 for more information. [Chuck Passek, ZION)
00-628 - Zion NP (UT)
Rangers were dispatched to a reported disturbance in the concession dorm early on the morning of Saturday, September 30th. They found a disoriented employee in the hallway and another bleeding from numerous injuries in the restroom. Both were hallucinating and unable to communicate. They were taken by ambulance to a hospital, where it was determined that the pair and a third employee had ingested jimson weed (also known as datura, angels trumpet and thorn apple), a psychoactive plant common to the Colorado Plateau. Rangers and a deputy sheriff returned to the dorm and found the third person, who had been unconscious for about 12 hours. During the investigation, the deputy and his dog found more drugs in the dorm. Symptoms of jimson weed use include blown pupils, rapid heart rate, and extreme hallucinations. Its normally ingested as tea or by chewing the root and can be fatal.
[Brent McGinn, Acting Superintendent, ZION, 10/3]
00-633 - Zion NP (UT)
A 33-year-old climber suffered multiple traumatic injuries when he rappelled off the short end of his doubled rope as he completed a climb of the Grasshopper route on October 8th. Eric Wehrly free fell about 20 feet, then tumbled another 20 to 30 feet. His partner, Ian Whyte, flagged down a park shuttle and got the operator to request medical assistance. Rangers and a park medic responded. Wehrly was treated for a severe head injury, flail chest (six or seven broken ribs), a pneumothorax with subcutaneous emphysema, fractures of both clavicles, a fractured right wrist and hand, and multiple head, hand and arm lacerations. He was flown to the trauma center in Las Vegas for treatment.
[Aniceto Olais, CR, ZION, 10/9]
00-636 - Zion NP (UT) - Pursuit; Arrests
Rangers Tim Havens and Randy Fisher attempted to stop two dirt bikes on the Kolob Terrace Road on October 7th. Both operators fled at high speed. They were pursued for a short distance, but the rangers broke off the chase because of the speeds involved and the winding nature of the road. They eventually tracked the motorcycles up a hiking trail to the point where they'd been ditched. Additional rangers arrived on scene and a search was begun for the pair. They soon came out of hiding and turned themselves in; they were arrested for a variety of offenses, including an outstanding state drug warrant.
[Ray O'Neil, IC, ZION, 10/8]
00-639 - Joshua Tree NP (CA) - Commercial Guiding Conviction
A year-long investigation into an illegal commercial guiding incident ended on October 5th when Charles Reynolds pled guilty to two petty offenses - conducting a commercial operation without a permit and providing false information to a federal officer. The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred in Indian Cove campground on November 6, 1999. Ranger Terry Olsson found Reynolds conducting a climbing class that included overnight camping and meals and was operating out of the family campsites without a permit. Reynolds made several false statements concerning the nature of his operation to Olsson. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Reynolds was placed on two years of informal court probation, banned from the park for a year, and fined $1,250. The investigation revealed that Reynolds conducts commercial guiding operations on BLM lands, in game preserves, and in other parks, primarily in the desert Southwest. These include both river trips and rock climbing classes. Reynolds typically advertises through adult education departments in local universities and community colleges, but is not sponsored by or affiliated with any know accredited institution.
[Patrick Suddath, DR, JOTR, 10/9]
00-646 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue
Four men between the ages of 30 and 50 entered Pine Creek Canyon on the afternoon of October 10th. It was rainy that day, with a 60% chance of thunderstorms. A short time after they entered the canyon and had made several rappels, a flash flood came down the drainage. The men were able to climb to safety on an eight-foot-high pinnacle. Their cries for help were heard and reported to park dispatch. Ten members of the park's SAR team were mobilized and were able to reach a point on the rim directly above and across the drainage from the stranded party. The four men were evacuated via a tag line from the pinnacle to the other side of the flooded creek; they were then helped to the rim and up another pitch until they reached a point where they could walk out. The leader of the party was subsequently issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition. [Kevin Killian, IC, ZION, 10/11]
00-647 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue
On October 11th, an air and ground search was begun for a four-person party that was overdue from an overnight trip through the Narrows. Rain caused the Virgin River to increase in flow from 50 to 250 cubic feet per second. A search helicopter located the party that afternoon in the Narrows section of the river's canyon near the exit of Mystery Canyon. Ground searchers contacted the party and escorted them out of the canyon. The foursome stayed on an isolated area of high ground within the canyon until the river flow dropped to a level that they could manage. [Cindy Purcell, IC, ZION, 10/11]
00-651 - Bryce Canyon NP (UT) - Assist: Airline In-flight Emergency
On October 6th, Garfield County dispatch asked the park's fire brigade to assist on an aircraft emergency at Bryce Canyon Airport, located just west of the park's northern boundary. An American Airlines MD Super 80 en route from Denver to Los Angeles had reportedly experienced depressurization and had smoke in its cockpit. The fire brigade and many other employees responded along with ambulance and fire units from the area. The plane landed safely. No fire was discovered, and all of the passengers and crew exited the plane without incident. Park staff helped provide logistical support for passengers, assisting in briefings and arranging for transportation. The pilot was unable to restart the plane's engines, so it had to be towed off the runway by a local towing service. Bryce Valley Airport is part of a nationwide system of airports built in the 1930s in strategic locations throughout the country to provide spots for emergency landings. The airport has a 7,400-foot runway. The crew of the MD Super 80 was attempting to land the plane in Las Vegas, but the emergency required a more immediate landing. [Clyde Stonaker, Protection Branch Manager, BRCA, 10/12]
00-652 - Bryce Canyon NP (UT) - Assault Arrests
Two AMFAC concession employees - David Costa and Curtis Caston - were arrested last week following a violent altercation in a concession-operated recreation hall. Costa allegedly assaulted Caston with a knife. A concession security guard attempted to intervene and called on rangers for assistance. When the rangers arrived, the fight was still in progress. An expandable baton had to be used to force Caston to back out of the fight; when he failed to heed repeated attempts to comply, the rangers employed OC spray to subdue him. Costa was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Caston was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest under state law. [Clyde Stonaker, Protection Branch Manager, BRCA, 10/12]
PARKS AND PEOPLE - October 16, 2000
Bryce Canyon NP (UT) - The park has issued a vacancy announcement for up to four GS-025-7/9 resource protection rangers (BRCA-01-01, closes on October 27th). These positions will be subject to furlough, with a minimum of two pay periods and a maximum of eight pay periods. These positions offer responsibilities and experience in a wide variety of traditional protection functions, while utilizing "resource-based rangering" concepts. A balance of emergency service programs (law enforcement, emergency medicine, search and rescue, structural and wildland fire), resource stewardship (exotic plants, air quality, backcountry ops, trails, boundary fence, hazard trees, etc.) and resource education (on and offsite programs, informal and formal interpretative activities) is emphasized. Contact chief ranger Rob Danno or protection branch manager Clyde Stonaker for more information.
Glen Canyon NRA (AZ/UT) - The park is recruiting for a GS-1101-9/11 revenue and fee business manager. Applications will be accepted from current federal employees, career conditional appointments, candidates with reinstatement eligibility, candidates eligible for special appointing authority, or veterans after three or more years of continuous service. The announcement number is GLCA-MP-00-28; it closes on October 25th.
PARKS AND PEOPLE - October 18, 2000
Capitol Reef NP (UT) - The park has an opening for a GS-0025-5/7/9
ranger in its Visitor and Resource Protection Division. The
announcement (IMDE-00-90) closes on October 31st. This permanent
full-time position requires a commission and carries a primary 6c
designation. Duties include both frontcountry and backcountry patrol.
Capitol Reef, a 378-square-mile park, is known for its extensive
backcountry and the spectacular slot canyons of the Waterpocket Fold.
For more information, call Tom Cox at 435-425-3791 ext. 130. [Tom Cox,
00-661 - Arches NP (UT) - Resource Violations
On the morning of September 19th, visitors reported that fires had been set in the area immediately around Delicate Arch. Investigating rangers found that four fires had apparently been lit on the previous night, one of which was still smoldering. The fires, set on bare rock and sand directly underneath and beside Delicate Arch, caused scorching and discoloration of the red sandstone. Efforts to restore the fire scars have been complicated by the presence of an oily or waxy substance that has stained and penetrated into the rock surface beneath each of the scars. The park is in the process of securing the services of a professional stone conservator to conduct a damage assessment and to determine if the fire scorching is permanent. A criminal investigation is currently under way. Investigators have already determined who set the fires and the reason they were set. A decision regarding prosecution will be made by the U.S. Attorney's Office when the investigation and assessment are completed, probably during the next few weeks. This incident has attracted statewide and regional media attention. Delicate Arch is probably the most famous natural span in the world and is a place of unsurpassed natural beauty in an incomparable setting. As well as being one of the most recognized icons of the National Park System, it is also synonymous with Utah in many people's eyes. The arch is featured in innumerable publications and advertisements and on Utah's centennial license plate. A facsimile was featured at the closing ceremonies of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. [Jim Webster, CR, ARCH, 10/20]
00-677 - Haleakala NP (HI) - Rescue
On the evening of October 29th, ranger Erik Larson and two Maui residents rescued two stranded visitors who had been swept off the Hana Highway six miles outside the park's Kipahulu District. Larson answered the call for assistance when both Hana police and fire teams found that they could not reach the area due to flooding and debris on the road. The visitors and their car were swept from the highway by a swollen stream that had jumped its banks. Larson found the couple in a tree above the swift-moving floodwater and rescued them with help from the two local residents. Both were okay. A reported 12.6 inches of rain fell in the Hana area in a 24-hour period, causing the severe flooding. [Jennifer Spaulding, PIO, HALE, 10/31]
00-701 - Zion NP (UT) - Concessioner Drug Arrests; Firings
On October 31st, ranger Brad Miederhoff attempted to contact several people in a concession dorm room about drug use. At least two were able to escape before he gained access to the room, but evidence found there aroused his suspicions about drug activity and distribution. District ranger Brent McGinn and a canine officer followed up the next day, interviewing suspects and utilizing the dog to find evidence. Marijuana, LSD and methamphetamine were recovered along with paraphernalia and distribution materials. Two people were arrested on felony drug distribution charges and two more for possession. Information obtained revealed a serious methamphetamine problem among concession staff. On November 2nd, rangers conducted drug testing for 16 employees at the request of AMFAC management. Fifteen were fired after failing or refusing the tests. Rangers will meet with concession management to outline a plan for recruitment, hiring and testing of employees to prevent similar situations in the future. [Brent McGinn, DR, ZION, 11/6]
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