GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ – The death of a 65-year-old hiker at Grand Canyon National Park has sparked a joint investigation by the National Park Service and the local medical examiner. The hiker from Oracle, Arizona, identified as James Handschy, was found unresponsive on the park’s well-trafficked Bright Angel Trail, leading to his demise on Thursday, stated the agency on Friday.
The emergency SOS from a personal locator beacon led to the immediate dispatch of a rescuer on foot to the trail, situated approximately 1.5 miles north of Havasupai Gardens. The first rescuer was followed by search and rescue personnel who arrived via helicopter shortly after the SOS had been received at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Handschy had embarked on a hike from the South Rim of the canyon to the Colorado River situated at the canyon’s bottom and planned to return, totaling a round-trip distance of almost 18 miles. This incident is currently being looked into by the service, in collaboration with the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
This marks the 10th fatality at the national park this year, stated a park spokesperson via email. The park averages around 10 to 20 deaths annually and boasts almost 5 million visitors yearly.
Four of this year’s deaths were hiking-related, with three occurring on the Bright Angel Trail. The National Park Service describes this notorious trail as the premier hiking trail in the park.