Zip-line employee dies after falling from course on La Jolla Indian Reservation

Guests head down a zip line at the La Jolla Indian Reservation in 2015.
Guests head down a zip line at the La Jolla Indian Reservation in 2015. An employee died Monday after falling 70 feet.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A 34-year-old man died Monday, two days after falling about 70 feet from a zip line on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County, authorities said.

The man was identified as Joaquin Romero. He lived in Banning in Riverside County and worked at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the reservation, authorities said.

On Saturday afternoon, Romero was working on the “receiving” platform and tried to help someone on a zip line before he fell, according to the county medical examiner’s Office.


A witness told Fox 5 San Diego that Romero was helping a woman get hooked onto the platform when she started sliding out on the zip line. He was unable to stop her and grabbed onto her harness, causing them to slide out farther.

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Romero fell about 70 feet to the ground and suffered multiple blunt force injuries, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office and Capt. Frank LoCoco of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Fire crews used ropes and a rescue basket to hoist Romero onto a road, where he was loaded onto an ambulance and taken to a medical helicopter, LoCoco said. Romero was airlifted to a hospital, where he died Monday morning.

LoCoco said no one else was hospitalized.

The reservation’s zip line course, which opened in 2015, bills itself as the longest of its kind in Southern California, according to its website. The lines traverse canyons, valleys, treetops and the San Luis Rey River.

Norma Contreras, chairwoman for the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

In a statement to Fox 5, Contreras extended her condolences on behalf of the tribe to Romero’s family.

“We are saddened and heartbroken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline,” she said. “Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe working environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers.


“Given the circumstances of the accident, the Tribe is conducting an in-depth and comprehensive investigation, in coordination and cooperation with federal and state authorities.”

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, a spokesman confirmed.