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Accidents in National Parks

by David Peel on July 3, 2013

As an injury lawyer, the way people are injured or killed is strangely interesting to me. As I write this I am traveling through multiple national parks in the western United States with my family, which has been a dream of ours for many years.

If you asked most visitors to national parks what they are afraid of, it will usually be a bear attack. And, bears have killed people. But it is rare.

What should they really be afraid of?  Flying. 379 people have died in aircraft accidents in and around the airspace over the Grand Canyon alone.

In one recent year, the National Park service Reported 160 deaths and 1658 injuries within Park borders.

Not every death is from a fall or a bear attack or a crash, however, about 80 years ago, a 43-year-old prospector was hiking down a place in the Grand Canyon called “Snake Gulch.” Apparently it was well named. A rattlesnake loudly rattled at him and reportedly made a partial strike. While the snake never touched him, the man died of a heart attack!

Nineteen scalding deaths have been recorded in connection with Yellowstone’s hot springs and famous geysers since 1870.  One was not an accident. A 24 year old and his friend were there with a dog named Moosie, when the dog jumped in to a thermal pool. The man dove in and swam out to the dog and attempted to take it to shore; he then disappeared underwater, let go of the dog, and tried to climb out of the pool. Now blind, his skin was already peeling everywhere from third degree burns that resulted in the deaths of he and the dog.

In 1992, a 38-year-old jumped onto a wall at the Grand Canyon and acted like he was falling. He wind-milled his arms trying to scare his teenaged daughter, he jumped onto a short slope to complete the act.  Unknown to his bored daughter, he slipped and fell silently about 400 feet into the abyss.

Suicides are surprisingly common in national parks. But one stands out.   One man on a scenic helicopter flight, purposely jumped about 4,000 feet. It reportedly took 15 Park Service Personnel to gather the body parts.

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Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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