Two people died in separate incidents in Sequoia National Park during the weekend, including a Tulare woman, according to the park’s public affairs officer Mike Theune.
A man died Friday afternoon after falling off Mount Whitney, and a woman died Saturday afternoon after falling into the Kaweah River.
The man was climbing the north face of Mount Whitney, which still has snow and ice, when he fell, said Theune. A helicopter search was initiated by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at first light on Saturday and found his body after four hours. The National Park Service is expected to retrieve the man’s body on Sunday morning.
According to a group who crossed paths with the man as they descended the eastern slope of Mount Whitney on Friday, he was alone. He was climbing the Mountaineer’s Route, which is more challenging than the more commonly used route, said Theune. Sometime after they saw the man, the group saw a backpack fall. They called 911 as soon as they had cell signal, reporting that the man may have fallen.
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On Saturday afternoon, a 21-year-old woman from Tulare and her three friends were along the middle fork of the Kaweah River, about 6 miles inside of the park entrance on Highway 198, when she fell into the river. A search and rescue was initiated, said Theune.
As the woman was swept downstream near Potwisha Campground, Wesley Mungin of Hanford saw the woman and managed to get her to shore. Mungin tried CPR, but it was unsuccessful.
U.S. Park Ranger Chris Waldschmidt said the rivers are expected to keep rising with fast and cold water due to the record-level snowpack.