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Hiker, mountain climber fall to their deaths in Sequoia National Park incidents

A thin layer of early morning mist hangs over the Middle Fork Kaweah River drainage, as seen from Panther Gap in Sequoia National Park in this file photo from 2010. Two hikers died recently in Sequoia National Park, the park service reported Tuesday, May 15, 2018. One near Pear Lake and the other on the Mountaineers Route at Mt. Whitney.
A thin layer of early morning mist hangs over the Middle Fork Kaweah River drainage, as seen from Panther Gap in Sequoia National Park in this file photo from 2010. Two hikers died recently in Sequoia National Park, the park service reported Tuesday, May 15, 2018. One near Pear Lake and the other on the Mountaineers Route at Mt. Whitney. Fresno Bee file

A hiker and a mountain climber fell to their deaths in separate incidents in Sequioa National Park, the park said Tuesday.

One death occurred on Mount Whitney and the other at the Watchtower section of the Lakes Trail out of Lodgepole.

On May 5, two people reported that during their descent of Mount Whitney, they found two ice axes and what appeared to be a blood trail leading to a body 1,500 to 2,000 feet below the ice axes.

The same day, two others called the park to report that a friend had not returned from a solo summit attempt via the Mountaineers Route.

Rangers recovered the body the next day and transported it to Ash Mountain, where it was turned over to the Tulare County Coroner's office. He was identified as Eric Juliani, 29, of New Jersey.

The second fatality was reported Sunday.

The park was notified of a hiker who had fallen from the Watchtower section of the Lakes Trail. Anton Dokov, 29, of San Diego, slipped on ice and snow and slid over a cliff.

Rangers responded that same day, but dangerous ice and snow conditions with a very steep slope forced them to turn around.

The next day, rangers found the body, but were could not retrieve it due to the complexity and technical aspects of the recovery. The body was recovered Tuesday and transported to Ash Mountain.

Hikers and climbers are cautioned that winter conditions still exist at higher elevations, and extreme caution is necessary.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team and California Highway Patrol successfully completed a recovery operation along Highway 180 and the Kings River inside Sequoia National Park.

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