Man Who Slipped to His Death in Yosemite Identified as Ohio Tourist

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 8 

The man who fell to his death in Yosemite National Park on Christmas Day was from Ohio, local authorities reported Monday.

Assistant Mariposa County coroner Andrea Stewart told the Mercury News that 32-year-old Joshua Brock Conner of Lakeview, Ohio, died of head injuries at Emerald Pool.

Government officials say Conner apparently slipped down Silver Apron, a large, sloping granite area above Nevada Fall.

Rangers responding to a 911 call arrived in less than an hour and pulled him from the water.

Officials say the partial government shutdown that began more than two weeks ago delayed a park statement about the death and is causing the investigation to take longer than usual.

Park law enforcement staff, however, are still on duty.

A park spokesman said in late October that more than 10 people died at Yosemite in 2018.

Outside Magazine reports there are about 50 park service staff working during the shutdown, compared to the usual 800-plus workers.

According to the magazine:

At least 10 people died in Yosemite National Park last year, prior to the shutdown, including another man who slipped and fell to his death near Nevada Fall. Nationwide, 330 million people visit our national parks every year, of which about 120 to 140 die in accidents. Drowning, vehicle accidents, and falls are overwhelmingly the causes of those deaths.

Unlike during some previous shutdowns, most national parks had initially remained open in the initial days of the current impasse, despite significant staff furloughs.

"During the 16-day shutdown in 2013, national parks were closed, in part due to concerns for visitor safety," Outside Magazine reported.

But officials are now starting to shut down entire parks or portions of parks due to health and safety concerns, as well as issues with trash, vandalism and park resource damage.

Parts of Yosemite have been closed. And officials at Joshua Tree National Park announced that the entire park would temporarily close on Thursday.

Officials also closed Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks last week. And portions of Death Valley National Park were closed to the public on Friday, including access roads to Natural Bridge, Dante's View, Keane Wonder Mine and Salt Creek. Furnace Creek and Texas Springs campgrounds are also closed.

With the partial government shutdown now in its third week,  garbage has piled up at national parks throughout the country. In California parks, there have been reports of overflowing garbage bins, unmaintained bathrooms with visitors relieving themselves in the wilderness, illegal off-roading and other damaging behaviors.

At Joshua Tree, the Los Angeles Times reports, there have been "breakdowns in the campground reservation system, illegal camping practices and visitors stringing Christmas lights from delicate Joshua trees that they are supposed to leave untouched."

Outgoing U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose resignation took effect Wednesday, tells the AP he sought to keep the parks open during the shutdown so that the public wasn't penalized for the political feud centered on President Trump's border wall.

Some park advocates have called for all national parks to be closed to protect them from possible harm. But Zinke said visitors can help keep them open if they "pitch in, grab a trash bag and take some trash out."

This post includes reporting from The Associated Press and The Mercury News.

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