Illinois Hiker Dies on Grand Canyon Trek, Marks Second Death in a Week

by Halle Ames

An Illinois hiker has just died along the Grand Canyon trek, making him the second fatality in a week along the popular trail. 

Officials have identified the hiker as 60-year-old Bill Smith, from Oswego, Illinois. On Tuesday, Smith was out hiking along the Grand Canyon trail to Ooh Ahh Point after a day of fishing. The point is located nearly one mile down the South Kaibab Trailhead, reports a Grand Canyon National Park spokesperson, Joelle Baird, to the New York Post. 

While on the hike, Smith suddenly collapsed. One other person joined Smith on the trek. Bystanders on the trial quickly jumped into action to try and save the man. They performed CPR while National Park Service paramedics were on the way. According to Baird, all attempts to save Smith’s life were unsuccessful. 

Park Investigating Death

Grand Canyon park officials and the Coconino County medical examiner are conducting an investigation into the sudden death. 

Baird notes that the area was not overly hot, so that was “hard to tell” the cause for Smith’s collapse. On Tuesday, the high temperature was around 85 degrees. 

“So it was warm, but we were not in an excessive heat warning like we had in the past couple weeks,” Baird said.

However, the Grand Canyon National Park spokesperson admits that the steep climb that Smith was on “is a challenging trail.” Furthermore, the elevation in the location is more than 7,200 feet.

The Grand Canyon’s website descibes the South Kaibab Trail that Smith was attempting. 

“The South Kaibab Trail offers wonderful views all along the trail, making it very easy to lose track of how far down you have hiked,” a park website reads. “Additionally, the steepness of the trail is very misleading on the way down.”

Smith’s death marks the ninth fatality in the popular Arizona national park so far this year.  

53-Year-Old Woman Dies Along Grand Canyon Trail

Earlier this week, a 53-year-old Michelle Meder died during her multi-day backpacking trip across the Grand Canyon.

However, Meder’s death is being blamed on the extreme heat in the area. On Sunday, the part of the Grand Canyon Meder was hiking reached up to a scorching 115 degrees. First, the woman was said to have become “disoriented.” Next, she was unconscious. 

By the time paramedics arrived on the scene, Meder was already dead. The park heeded a warning in the wake of the “preventable” loss. 

“Park Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park are strongly urging visitors to Grand Canyon, especially inner canyon hikers and backpackers, to be prepared for excessively hot days in the coming weeks,” officials say. “Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks.” 

Such health risks range from dehydration to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia, and even death.