Wildlife worker, 75, dies in climbing accident in San Diego

Cal Fire crews and a rescue helicopter were unable to save a climber injured on a San Pasqual Valley cliff in San Diego on Thursday.
(Courtesy of Cal Fire)

The man was fatally injured while descending a cliff to change batteries in an animal surveillance camera

A 75-year-old wildlife worker died in a climbing accident Thursday afternoon while he was trying to change the batteries in a surveillance camera on a cliff overlooking San Pasqual Valley, a fire official said.

The man suffered a major head injury after descending about 50 feet down the cliff using a rope, with a partner at the top. A rescue helicopter hoisted the injured man off the cliff, but he was dead when medics at a landing zone tried to tend to him, Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots said.

Shoots did not know the man’s name or the organization with which he was affiliated.

The rescue took place on a cliff off Highland Valley Road, near Starvation Mountain Road and the Speckle Rock Vineyards.


The two men were on a routine mission to change batteries in a camera installed on the cliff face to track wildlife, the partner told officials. The man who rappelled down the cliff was not wearing a helmet, Shoots said.

Something went wrong and the man got inverted while hanging from the rope and suffered a head injury. He asked his partner to call 911. The call for help reached Cal Fire about 3:45 p.m., Shoots said.

A rescue helicopter crew lowered a medic onto the cliff. The medic and the injured man then were hoisted into the copter and flown a short distance to an open field for landing. An ambulance crew was standing by, but they were unable to revive the then-unconscious man, Shoots said.