Hiker dies from heart attack in Grand Teton during weekend full of emergencies

Emergency crews in Grand Teton National Park responded to a wide range of incidents over the weekend. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost)

Emergency crews in Grand Teton National Park responded to a wide range of incidents over the weekend. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost)

From Staff Reports

A Michigan man died Sunday after suffering a heart attack during a hike in Grand Teton National Park in just one of several incidents that kept emergency personnel busy throughout the park.

A 74-year-old man visiting the park from Troy, Mich. was on a ranger-led hike at Swan Lake near Colter Bay when he was stricken with a heart attack at about 2:15 p.m., according to a statement released Monday by the park’s public affairs office.

The ranger naturalist leading the hike immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the man, whose name was not released. Six rangers and one Jackson Hole paramedic responded to the scene, which was just over one mile from the Hermitage Point trailhead. After nearly one hour of CPR, the man could not be revived and was pronounced dead.

Park staff worked over the weekend on a total of two search and rescue missions, eight medical calls and multiple reports of property damage after high winds ripped through the Colter Bay area.

A 38-year-old visitor from Israel was reported missing by his friends just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday after he failed to return from a solo day hike. The hiker had planned to spend the day in Cascade Canyon and return to his group about 7 p.m.

Park rangers searched the Jenny and String Lake areas that night, but did not locate the missing man. A park ranger on a routine backcountry patrol in Cascade Canyon had not received word of any distressed hiker, so rangers decided to begin a ground-based search at first light on Sunday morning. The man was located uninjured near String Lake around 11 a.m. Sunday.

The overdue Cascade Canyon hiker had met someone on the trail who had crossed Paintbrush Divide, and he decided to give that route a try in sneakers. When the hiker reached the divide, he realized he was not appropriately equipped to cross the steep, snow-covered and exposed divide, so he retreated down Leigh Canyon.

When it became dark, the hiker decided to stay put for the evening. Park officials said the hiker made the right decision by not attempting to cross the divide without an ice axe or mountaineering boots, as well as by choosing to stay put after dark.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday night, two hikers in the Pilgrim Creek area were reported overdue to return. Two park rangers canvased the area and were not able to locate any associated vehicles or the overdue hikers.

The rangers determined that the hikers were likely on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and not in Grand Teton National Park, so search efforts were transitioned to Teton County Search and Rescue in coordination with Forest Service personnel. Teton County searchers found the missing hikers in good condition the next morning.

Also Sunday afternoon, exceptionally strong winds toppled or broke more than 100 live trees around the Colter Bay developed area. The most significant damage occurred in the Colter Bay Campground and RV Park. Three or four trees struck vehicles.

A tree branch struck a 30-year-old German woman, causing life-threatening injuries. The branch was estimated to be 40 feet long with a diameter of over 10 inches. The injured woman was transported by park ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center before being flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Park officials did not release names for any of those injured or missing during the weekend.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

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