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California, Yosemite Valley

California, Yosemite Valley. On July 16th Jerrold Goodwin (age 31) and Benjamin Wells (32) were on the first pitch of the MW Route of Sunnyside Bench. A falling body hurtled past and landed on the scree sixty feet below. Goodwin and Wells immediately downclimbed and found Brian Quinn (18) lying on his side with obvious multiple injuries. He had a strong heartbeat but was not breathing. The climbers dispatched two bystanders for help and attempted to clear the victim’s nose and throat. A physician ascended the scree slope and directed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external heart massage. The physician decided that immediate evacuation was necessary, but the first ranger to arrive said no evacuation should be tried until additional help arrived, for which he radioed. The ranger had a resuscitator which proved useless as it lacked an airway. The victim’s tongue had swollen to block his mouth, his nose was clogged, and his pulse was lost. An improvised stretcher was brought up, but Quinn was dead on arrival at Yosemite hospital. The victim had been “leading” three other young people up sloping ledges toward the Class 5 portion of the Waterfall Route. None of the four had experience climbing. Quinn was carrying a coil of clothesline on his belt. (Sources: Goodwin, Ralph Robinson, Peter Thompson, Wells.)

Analysis: The victim died of massive internal injuries, and in retrospect it appears he could not have been saved. However, Goodwin feels that the first ranger should have been prepared to evacuate, as the second team did not arrive for twenty minutes. A resuscitator needs an airway to be useable. The ranger told Goodwin and Wells that this was the ninth climbing fatality of the season. Meanwhile the Valley is filled with persons sporting “Go Climb A Rock” T-shirts purchased at the Yosemite Mountaineering Store. “Don’t Fall Off a Rock” would be a defensible motto, but we would prefer that such organizations desist from commercial advertising of climbing. (Sources: Goodwin, Wells.)