Sad news out of the southwest today as a man drove over the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon in an apparent suicide.
The deceased man has yet to be identified by authorities as of early Thursday morning. Local authorities say the man was alone in his vehicle when he drove off the rim on Wednesday. Grand Canyon Resort Corporation Lea Cooper says the vehicular incident does appear to be intentional.
The western rim portion of the Canyon is also a popular tourism destination for tourists around the world. Here, visitors will find the Hualapai Tribe and the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway at Eagle Point near the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is also quite popular for tourists and is one of the most-visited parts of the park.
Ruby Steele, interim CEO of the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation and a tribal member, says park staff is working with law enforcement officials.
“We are devastated by this tragedy,” she said on Wednesday morning via the New York Post. “The Hualapai people consider the canyon a place of sacred beauty and healing.”
There are not many details known about the man and why he took his life and an investigation is likely.
“The incident involved a male and he was the only person in the vehicle,” Cooper notes. “This is still an active investigation and we will provide updates as they become available.”
Grand Canyon West officials say they are cooperating and will continue to cooperate with investigators. A recovery mission to retrieve the body and the vehicle is ongoing.
Grand Canyon Incidents Resulting in Death Are Rare
The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited attractions in the entire world, bringing in millions of visitors each year. About six million people visit the Grand Canyon per year, making it the second-most visited National Park in the United States. The only National Park with a greater average yearly visitation is the Great Smoky Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains average nearly 12 million visitors each year, making it the most visited park by a wide margin.
Even with a high level of foot traffic throughout the year, incidents in Grand Canyon Park are rare. The park averages about 12 deaths per year. The most common deadly incidents are plane crashes, falls and dangerous environmental conditions such as overheating or drowning. The park goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of visitors.
The Grand Canyon has already surpassed its average death total this year. A hiker who fell 50 feet to his death last month was the 18th reported fatality. Earlier this year, the park recorded two hiking deaths just five days apart and another a month after that.
National Parks strongly encourage visitors to take extra safety precautions.