Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Arizona hiker’s death on Grand Canyon trail marks 10th fatality at national park this year

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An Arizona man died after he was found unresponsive on a popular Grand Canyon hiking trail last week, marking the 10th fatality at the national park this year.

The National Park Service identified the hiker as 65-year-old James Handschy of Oracle, Arizona.

Handschy had set off on Thursday for a hike from the South Rim to the river and back along the Bright Angel Trail, the agency said, a roundtrip of about 18 miles. The trail is located about 1.5 miles north of Havasupai Gardens.

Park rangers received an SOS alert from Handschy’s personal locator beacon around 1:30 p.m. and immediately responded on foot from Havasupai Gardens.

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A helicopter brought additional search and rescue personnel to the trail where Handschy was found unresponsive. The agency said rangers arrived and pronounced the hiker deceased.

No further details were immediately available as the agency and Coconino County Medical Examiner investigate the hiker’s death.

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Handschy’s death is the 10th this year at the national park, which averages between 10 and 20 deaths annually, a park spokesperson told The Associated Press. Four deaths have been hiking-related, with three of them occurring on the Bright Angel Trail.

Grand Canyon National Park draws millions of visitors each year to explore its “vast vistas, beautiful colors, and incredible geology,” according to the park’s website. 

The Bright Angel Trail is described as the Grand Canyon’s “most popular hiking trail,” and is tucked within a side canyon along a massive fault, according to the agency. Officials warn that the return hike back up out of the canyon is far more difficult than the trip down.

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