Hiker found dead in Grand Canyon, second in two months

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A man died in Grand Canyon National Park while trying to hike from the South Rim to the river and back, the National Park Service said, two months after another hiker died on an arduous trek during high heat.

James Handschy, 65, of Oracle, Ariz., was pronounced dead at the scene by park rangers Thursday.

The park’s regional communication center received an emergency alert from a personal beacon on the Bright Angel Trail, approximately 1.5 miles north of Havasupai Gardens, around 1:30 p.m. that day, according to the park service.

A rescuer immediately responded on foot from Havasupai Gardens, and search and rescue crews were deployed by helicopters. Handschy was found unresponsive, and rangers declared him dead at the scene.

The park service is working with the Coconino County medical examiner to investigate the death. The agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Handschy was attempting to hike from the South Rim to the river and back, about 18 miles total, park officials said.

The Bright Angel Trail is one of the park’s most popular trails and is tucked deep within a side canyon. The return hike is more challenging, according to the park’s website. Hikers attempting to reach the Colorado River are encouraged to consult park rangers for safety tips — extreme temperature and elevation changes make trips beyond Havasupai Gardens more difficult — and overnight permits.

Handschy’s death was the 10th in the park this year, the Associated Press reported. The average is between 10 and 20 a year.

Four of this year’s deaths have been hiking-related, three of which occurred on the Bright Angel Trail, the AP reported.

In September, a 55-year-old man died while attempting a 21-mile rim-to-rim hike in a single day, a trek that can take 12 to 15 hours to complete.

Ranjith Varma of Manassas, Va., became unresponsive on the North Kaibab Trail on Sept. 12, when temperatures in the area were nearing triple digits.

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