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NPS Morning Report - items of interest

Be aware that the info in the NPSMR is not always accurate. Also, they sometimes cull items from their database for no apparent reason - for example, try to find anything on the incident at J-Tree involving Jonathan Thesenga - its been purged - perhaps because it was so blatantly incorrect?

Here is the link to the NPS Morning Report.

The following are items from past reports that we found to be randomly interesting. We are still trying to locate the ones for Thesenga's "horrible" crime that got him (unjustly) fired from Climbing Magazine.

April 2006: is pleased to observe that JT is back at the helm of Climbing Magazine. We disagreed with his firing in the first place. Not certain what factor the changes in upper management at Climbing had to do with his return, but we suspect that the PC types who fired him are no longer in control. Welcome back, Jonathan!

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Climber Sustains Fatal Injuries in Fall

On December 15th 2004, Darcy McRee, 31, of Golden, British Columbia, was lead climbing “Walk on the Wildside” when he went off-route and worked his way to another route to his right. The route he was climbing is rated at a 5.7 (on a 6.0 scale), but turned to a 5.10 when he went off-route. McRee lost his footing and fell backwards, striking his head as he fell approximately 60 feet before his belay line caught. He was not wearing a climbing helmet and suffered severe head injuries. Park staff and members of the JOSAR volunteer SAR team responded and conducted a low angle belay down a talus field. McRee was flown to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where he succumbed to his head injuries on December 17th. Jeff Ohlfs was IC. [Submitted by Dan Messaros, Lost Horse District Ranger]

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Injured Climber Rescued

James Lucus, 23, of Berkeley, California, was free climbing the North Overhang at Intersection Rock on December 18th 2004when he lost his grip and fell 70 feet to a ledge, where he landed in a sitting position with his back facing the edge of the ledge. As he attempted to move, he fell an additional 40 feet to the ground. Ranger Heather Stephens and JOSAR volunteers responded. Lucus was medevaced to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. He sustained broken bones and head injuries (he was not wearing a helmet) but is expected to survive. Dan Messaros was IC. [Submitted by Dan Messaros, Lost Horse District Ranger]

From Morning Report on: Monday, July 19, 2004

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Power Outage Strands Hundreds of Visitors

The Dangling Rope Marina lost power around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 5th. The outage affected the entire marina and developed area. The marina, accessible only by water, is a very popular refueling and supply stop for visitors boating on Lake Powell, and is a necessary fuel stop for the numerous day-use visitors traveling over 50 lake miles to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The electrical power failure resulted in all water, sewer, communication, fire suppression and fuel delivery systems being shut down. Since gasoline couldn't be dispensed, well over 400 people in approximately 100 boats were left stranded without gas on the last day of the major holiday weekend. Many visitors were unable to return to their camping sites. Day use visitors not prepared for an overnight trip had special needs, such as food, water, shelter, medication and health concerns. The daytime temperature was over 100 degrees, with limited shade on the docks. Families with children or elderly were especially susceptible to the heat. At times, nearly 50 boats per hour were entering the marina in search of fuel and/or supplies. Some of the visitors with special needs abandoned their boats to be evacuated in concession tour boats. Due to limited docking space, others had to leave the marina area and were forced to camp along the nearby shoreline to await the return of services. The park put ICS into effect to manage the evacuation of those visitors requesting same and to provide logistical support to meet the needs of visitors and personnel working to re-establish electrical power to resolve the crisis. A self-contained generator system, potable water tanks and portable vault toilets were ordered from St. George, Utah – an effort that entailed transporting equipment and technical specialists by truck, barge and helicopter to the site. Several rental houseboats were chartered and docked at the marina to provide temporary accommodations, shelter and comfort stations for visitors. The marina concessionaire, unable to maintain refrigerated perishables, supplied meals at no cost to the stranded visitors. (Editor's note - this is a lie - I was one of the hundreds of strandees, and they charged us full price for everything) Rangers, park volunteers, concession employees and maintenance personnel spent two days and nights aiding visitors during this incident. During the evening of July 6th, NPS personnel and a private electrical contractor located and repaired a break in the three-quarter-mile long underground power line. Electrical service was restored to the fuel docks, but other concession services remained closed until supplies were restocked later in the week.
[Submitted by Steve Luckesen, District Ranger, Uplake District/Incident Commander]

02-362 - Glacier NP (MT) - Climbing Fatality

Matt Wiesike, 20, of Orange Park, Florida, died in a climbing accident on the Hidden Lake side of Reynolds Mountain on the night of Monday, August 5th 2002. The fatality is under routine investigation, but it appears that he fell over two cliff bands, rolled down a rock slope, and died from massive trauma. Snow was reportedly not a factor in the accident. Wiesike was a seasonal employee at St. Mary’s Park Café and had been working there for about three weeks. This was his first summer working in the region. Although climbing in the park is legal, it is not a recommended or promoted park activity due to the loose and unstable nature of the rock and the snow and ice encountered on most peaks and climbing routes much of the time. [Amy Vanderbilt, PIO, GLAC]

From Morning Report on: Monday, August 02, 2004

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Body of Missing Teen Found

Late last week, the Riverside Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the body recovered from the park on Friday, July 23rd, is that of Eric Sears, 17, of Carlsbad, California. A search group associated with Sears’ family located the body near the Twin Tanks trailhead in rocky terrain. This area is approximately two-and-a-half miles from the Jumbo Rocks campground, where an extensive search began for Sears on July 15th. The autopsy revealed no obvious signs of trauma. The possibility of foul play and exact cause of death are still being investigated. Critical incident stress debriefing team members from Yosemite and Cabrillo conducted sessions with park staff last week. Funeral services for Eric Sears were held on Saturday in Carlsbad. At the family’s request, Joshua Tree National Park employees and volunteer searchers from JOSAR were invited to attend the service.[Submitted by Joe Zarki, Public Information Officer]

From Morning Report on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Major SAR Underway for Missing Teenage Boy

The park has been involved in a major, complex search and rescue operation since the afternoon of Thursday, July 15th. Two 17-year old boys from Carlsbad, California, were camping at Jumbo Rocks Campground when they became separated from one another near the eastern edge of the campground at 12:30 p.m. Eric Sears was reported missing by his companion at the Oasis Visitor Center at approximately 4:30 p.m. Park rangers responded and organized hasty searches of the area on Thursday evening, but were unable to locate the missing teen. On Friday, the search was expanded to a unified incident command structure involving Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County Sheriffs Office, and the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Office. District ranger Jeff Ohlfs served as co-IC for the park, with district ranger Dan Messaros serving as operations chief. Initial reports indicated that Sears was lost without food or water in weather conditions which featured daily highs in the upper 90s with very low humidity. Throughout the weekend, the search operation continually expanded until by Sunday more than 20 different agencies and volunteer SAR teams totaling 170 SAR personnel were assigned to the incident. Assets employed in the search included helicopters and fixed-winged aircraft, ground searchers, professional trackers, technical climbers, scent dogs, bloodhounds, and equestrian patrols. Adding more tragedy to the incident, a vehicle with five volunteer searchers reporting to the search was involved in a head-on collision early Saturday morning in the town of Morongo Valley. Two searchers died from their injuries and another was critically injured. The driver of the other vehicle was arrested for driving under the influence and faces possible murder charges. Park staff deeply regrets the tragic loss of the volunteers from San Bernardino County. Media interest in the search is high, with more than 30 news organizations covering the incident. Weather and rough terrain have made search operations challenging. The search perimeter covers roughly 20 square miles, and the area is characterized by maze-like boulder formations with literally thousands of crevices, caves, and deep holes. There is no surface water in the area. On Monday, the Riverside County Sheriffs Office received information that led to the opening of a criminal investigation surrounding the disappearance of Sears. The search continued Tuesday, with the park assuming command for search operations. Fourteen people, mainly park staff and Joshua Tree Search and Rescue volunteers, continued to support the search operation. All inquiries about the incident are being directed to Riverside County Sheriffs Office, which is handling the investigation with assistance from Joshua Tree National Park rangers. Jumbo Rocks Campground has been closed to public use during the search and subsequent investigation.[Submitted by Joe Zarki, Public Information Officer]

From Morning Report on: Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Resource Theft/Permit Violations

Ranger Scott Fischer came upon a desert bighorn sheep skull in a tent in the Hidden Valley campground on October 29, 2002. An investigation ensued and the occupants of the site were found to be a group from Prescott College. The owner of the tent was reported to be James Miller, an instructor from the school. When he was interviewed later that day, he admitted to taking the skull from Dead Horse Canyon in Death Valley NP several days earlier. The group was on a class field trip to both parks. Miller was cited with a mandatory court appearance for possession of wildlife parts and violating terms and conditions of a permit. On February 7th, Miller appeared in court and pled guilty to the charges. As a consequence of his actions, Miller was terminated from his position with Prescott College. The college has since made provisions to educate its instructors and students on both common National Park Service rules and regulations and the terms and conditions of NPS permits. On April 4th, Miller was sentenced to a fine of $1200 and a year’s unsupervised probation and banned from entering Joshua Tree or Death Valley for a period of one year. The skull will be returned to Death Valley.
[Submitted by Jeff Ohlfs, Acting Chief Ranger]

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Climbing Fatality

While hiking near the base of El Capitan in a snowstorm on the evening of December 28, climbers heard yells for help coming from the Zodiac route and reported the yelling to the park around 7:30 p.m. Ranger Jack Hoeflich hiked to the base of the route in the severe storm, arriving there about 11 p.m. With difficulty, Hoeflich located an unresponsive climber swinging in the wind on a rope about 25 feet above the ground and 15 feet out from the overhanging wall. Additional rangers and rescue team members arrived after 1 a.m. with rescue equipment. A rope was clipped to the climber with considerable effort, using a 25-foot "cheater stick" extendable pole. Hoeflich then ascended a fixed rope about 70 feet to the west of the stranded climber and hanging 15 feet out from the wall. Hoeflich trailed the rope that was attached to the climber. When he was at about the same level as the immobile climber, Hoeflich and the climber were pulled together by the team on the ground using the previously attached rope. Hoeflich rigged him to be lowered and the ground team let him down. Park medics and EMTs did CPR until he was declared dead by medical control via cell phone. The body was then littered over the snow-covered talus slope and hauled to the road shortly after 4 a.m. The climber was later identified as Joseph E. Crowe, 25, of San Jose, California. Witnesses confirmed that Crowe had been solo climbing the Zodiac.
[Submitted by David Horne, Supervisory Park Ranger/Team Leader]

From Morning Report on: Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
Remains Found of Visitor Missing for Four Years

On October 28 2002, a group of Boy Scouts discovered human remains in the 49 Palms Trail area of the park. Ranger Jeff Ohlfs and San Bernadino County homicide detectives investigated the next day. They determined that they were the remains of 60-year-old Joseph Dimento of Seal Beach, California, missing since 1998. Dimento and his wife had camped in the park that June. They then returned home to Seal Beach, which is about 150 miles from the park. Dimento’s wife unpacked, then took a shower; when she came out, he was gone. It’s not clear why or how Dimento returned to the park, since he didn’t take the family car and no vehicle was found abandoned in the park. Investigators have determined that he withdrew about $200 from his bank account via an ATM machine on the same day he disappeared. His wife offered a reward for information on her husband’s disappearance, but no credible reports have come to light so far.
[Submitted by Joe Zarki, PIO]