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Death At Channel Islands National Park Demonstrates Need to Be Prepared


A hiker who died at Channel Islands National Park from a presumed case of heat stroke sadly demonstrates not only the need to be prepared when you head out into a park, but also the wisdom of heeding advice from rangers.

Thomas Pruner, 49, of Lake Forest, California, died last Friday after a 14-mile hike in 90+-degree weather from Prisoners Harbor to the Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island, according to a park release. Mr. Pruner and three friends set out about 11 a.m. on a day with little wind and when temperatures reached a record 94 degrees. Their route took them across terrain that offered little shade, according to the release.

According to information his friends provided rangers, Mr. Pruner "exhibited signs of fatigue early in the hike and experienced increasing difficulty throughout the day. He was assisted the last couple of miles to their destination in Scorpion Valley campground, arriving at about 5:00 p.m. Upon arrival he began seizing and shortly thereafter became unconscious and unresponsive."

Care was immediately provided to the man by an off-duty U.S. Navy fire captain from San Diego, a kayak guide with Santa Barbara Adventure Company, and National Park Service staff, the park noted. They worked to resuscitate Mr. Pruner for about an hour, using both CPR and an automated external defibrillator. When paramedics from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department arrived they continued resuscitation efforts for about another half-hour. Mr. Pruner was declared dead at 7:27 p.m. and transported to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office, the park noted.

Before the four hikers left Prisoners Harbor they had received a "general safety orientation that included information about staying hydrated while hiking on the island," the park released noted. "They were advised to carry more water given the extended length of their hike and the hot conditions. They were each carrying approximately two liters of water at the start of their hike."


I remember at my last visit (mid-summer) to Yosemite we stopped a while to see a spotter scope set up (as part of the "Ask a Climber" program) to check on the progress of rock climbers going up El Capitan. There were only maybe 2-3 groups attempting to go up, while the guy manning the event noted that in the spring or fall it might be a dozen or more. He noted that they have to carry their own water since there aren't exactly any water sources along the route. These climbers are acutely aware of the requirements for water and I suppose a lot stay away from that kind of climbing in the summer months because of the need to carry that kind of weight.

Climbers, and in particular big wall climbers, are much more seasoned outdoor person than your average hiker.


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I think we need to hold off judgment until there is more medical evidence. As stated Tommy was feeling distressed early into the hike and at that point water was less a factor.
A friend and will miss Thomas, God Bless

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