HomeOutdoorsArizona Hiker Found Dead After Falling From Trail While Trying to Take a Photo

Arizona Hiker Found Dead After Falling From Trail While Trying to Take a Photo

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

An Arizona man fell 700 feet to his death while trying to take a photo on a mountain peak in Apache Junction, Arizona. The 21-year-old hiker went camping with a friend earlier this week when he slipped and fell from the Flatiron Peak in the Lost Dutchman State Park.

Richard Jacobson and a friend made the several miles-long trek into the park and up the mountain when he fell off of the trail on Monday. The hiker told police that Jacobson was trying to take a photo from the summit when it happened.

“He slipped and fell,” said Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Doug Peoble, according to the report. “I can tell you that during our investigation, there [were] no signs of foul play. No signs of drug use whatsoever. It was just a very tragic accident.”

His friend said rescue crews found the body 700 feet below their campsite. First responders airlifted his friend off the mountain for treatment.

“As you can imagine, he was very distraught,” Sgt. Peoble added. “He was torn up pretty bad emotionally. We were able to get a helicopter to him.”

Andrew Thomas spent three months with Jacobson as a missionary in 2020. He remembers Jacobson as caring and well-liked.

“He really was one of those guys that everyone loved, and it’s sad to lose him, but we know that it’s not the end,” Thomas told the Arizona Republic newspaper. “We’re going to see him again.”

Thomas said Jacobson was an avid outdoorsman. “He was just my companion in that sense,” said Thomas. “I spent all my waking hours with Richard, so I got to know him pretty well…He was an outdoorsman, hunter, hiker. He did stuff like that, so I guess he did die doing what he loved to do, just in a tragic way.”

Hikers: Flatiron Peak Trail ‘Not For the Faint of Heart’

Hikers said the summit that Richard Jacobson fell from is a difficult climb and dangerous. Reviews of the Siphon Draw Trail on AllTrails say the 5.5-mile path is the most popular path to Flatiron Peak.

Several people who claim to live near there discussed how dangerous that area can be. Others who’ve taken the trail say that it’s “not for the faint of heart.”

“Live nearby and have seen many a helicopter evacuation, typically about 1/2 way down around the saddle,” one person wrote on Tuesday.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for hikers to slip and fall off of mountain trails while trying to take a photo.

Brandon Torres, the chief of Emergency Services at the Grand Canyon, told PEOPLE in 2019 that hikers shouldn’t take any unnecessary risks for a good shot. Though, it’s unclear what caused Jacobson to fall.

“There’s been a couple of accidents where people took a picture and posed like they were going to fall off, and they really fell off,” he told the magazine. “You gotta be super focused about being next to the edge, and not just at the rim. Hiking down steep canyon trails, think about how much opportunity there is to fall off a trail. People don’t tend to fall off the trails at Grand Canyon because they’re pretty focused. They’re focused on what they’re doing.”