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Hiker Falls To Death Near Idyllwild. Authorities Warn Local Mountains Are Icy And Offer Safety Tips

A green topographical map shows the location of the dead hiker near Tahquitz Peak.
A rescue team was able to locate a hiker who had fallen Sunday but the person was pronounced dead at the scene.
(Courtesy CalFire/Riverside County Fire Dept.)
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A hiker on a remote trail near Idyllwild was killed in a fall Sunday afternoon.

Riverside County Sheriff's officials were alerted to the emergency through a 911 call about 2:20 p.m, and deployed a team to search near the South Ridge Trail close to Tahquitz Peak.

"After searching the area by air, our Rescue Helicopter located the hiker in a remote area," said Sgt. Brandi Swan via email. "It appeared the hiker had fallen and sustained major injuries. Medical personnel aboard our helicopter were hoisted down to the hiker’s location and declared the hiker deceased."

Swan said late Sunday efforts were still underway to recover the hiker's body. The identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin, she said.

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UPDATE
  • Riverside County authorities on Tuesday identified the man who was killed as Patrick Comstock, 38, of Rockaway Beach, New York. They said snow and ice played a role in his fatal fall.

That trail is popular but it also is rated difficult by hiking groups and requires a permit.

Just the day before, Palm Springs police issued a safety alert about icy conditions in the local mountains, noting that several rescues had already taken place in recent days on the Mount San Jacinto Skyline Trail.

The post on the police department's Facebook page asks people to take extra care:

The trail conditions beyond 6000 feet become very cold and icy, and become more treacherous after sundown.

Remember to dress warm, have adequate water, and use crampons or shoes with spikes.

While we enjoy using all the fancy and much needed rescue equipment, rescues can be dangerous for everyone involved. If you or anyone you know will be hiking soon, please remember and pass along this safety message, and enjoy your hike in our beautiful mountains

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They listed these standard hiker safety tips to share:

Be prepared!
  • Always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Carrying a few extra items can save your life. At a minimum, always carry the "10 Essentials":

      1. Extra food and water (more than you think you'll need)
      2. Extra clothing (more than you think you'll need)
      3. Map and compass (know how to use them)
      4. Flashlight or headlamp (plus extra batteries)
      5. First-aid kit
      6. Fire-starting kit
      7. Pocket-knife or multi-tool
      8. Signaling device (mirror or whistle)
      9. Sunscreen and sunglasses
      10. Emergency shelter (emergency blanket or bivy sack)
    1. MORE TIPS

      • Before you leave home, always tell a friend or family member where you plan on going and when you plan to return. Leave them with instructions on what to do if you don't return on time.
      • In case of an unexpected problem or emergency, always have a back-up plan for escaping the area safely. Also provide this back-up plan with your friends or family before you leave.
      • Although it's sometimes nice to be alone in the outdoors, it's always safest to go with at least one or two partners, especially if you're a novice or unfamiliar with the area.
      • Have the appropriate level of knowledge and experience for the adventure you plan to have. If you are a novice, please rely on a professional guide or at least a highly knowledgable and experienced partner.
      • As much as possible, study and become familiar with the area you plan on exploring. Gain a thorough understanding of the terrain and its potential hazards.
      • Review the local weather forecast in the area you plan on going and take the appropriate clothing and equipment. During winter-like conditions in mountainous terrain, check the current avalanche report in the area.
      • Be healthy, safe, and smart. Know your limits, don't over-extend them, and don't take unnecessary risks. It's advisable not to go hiking with an existing injury, as it could become unpredictably worse during activity.
      • While in the backcountry with young children, always keep them within sight. If your dog is with you, be courteous and keep it leashed in areas that require it. Doing so will keep you, your dog, other people, and the wildlife more safe.
      • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are many objective hazards in the wilderness, and they aren't always obvious. Keep a keen eye out for deteriorating weather, dangerous trail conditions, avalanche risks, and wildlife.
    What questions do you have about Southern California?