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An Illinois man died while hiking in Grand Canyon National Park, the second fatality there since last weekend, officials said.
William Smith, 60, of Oswego, was hiking out of the canyon Tuesday after finishing a single-day trek to Ooh Ahh Point, roughly one mile down the South Kaibab Trailhead, when he collapsed, Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Joelle Baird told The Post.
Smith, who was hiking with at least one other person, received CPR from bystanders before National Park Service paramedics responded roughly a half-mile below the trailhead. Additional attempts to revive Smith were unsuccessful, Baird said.
An investigation into the fatality is being conducted by park officials and the Coconino County medical examiner, NPS officials said in a statement Wednesday.
Tuesday’s high temperature in the canyon was roughly 85 degrees, Baird said.
“So it was warm, but we were not in an excessive heat warning like we had in the past couple weeks,” Baird told The Post, adding it was “hard to tell” if conditions played a role in Smith’s death.
“It is a challenging trail,” Baird continued, noting the steep, rugged terrain along the trailhead, which has an elevation of more than 7,200 feet.
“The South Kaibab Trail offers wonderful views all along the trail making it very easy to lose track of how far down you have hiked,” a park website reads. “Additionally, the steepness of the trail is very misleading on the way down.”
Tuesday’s high was within the norm for mid-June along the South Rim, but temps rise slightly “as you go into the canyon,” Baird said.
Smith’s death marked the second fatality at the Grand Canyon since Sunday, when Michelle Meder, 53, of Hudson, Ohio, was pronounced dead from suspected heat-related illness as temperatures hit 115 degrees, tying a previous record set for that day.
Meder was on a backpacking trip with friends when she became disoriented Saturday and later fell unconscious. Responding park rangers found her dead Sunday afternoon.
On average, about 15 to 20 people die every year in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park in incidents ranging from medical emergencies to falls and suicides, Baird told The Post.
Nine fatalities have been tallied thus far in 2021, Baird said.
“Our big message and push is to educate hikers about knowing their own physical abilities and not trying to do anything that they haven’t done before, especially when our search and rescue personnel are stretched thin,” Baird said Thursday. “We want people to plan ahead and to be realistic about their limits.”
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