Hiker found dead in Grand Canyon, second in two months

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 hike during intense heat.

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

The park’s regional communications center received an emergency alert from a personal beacon on Bright Angel Trail, about 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 teams were deployed in helicopters. Handschy was found unconscious and was pronounced dead at the scene by rangers.

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 walk from the South Rim to the river and back, about 18 miles in total, park officials said.

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

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

Four of this year’s deaths were related to hiking, 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 hike that can take 12 to 15 hours to complete.

Ranjith Varma of Manassas, Virginia, became unresponsive on the North Kaibab Trail on September 12, as temperatures in the area approached triple digits.

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