Updated: Hiker Falls at Eaton Canyon, Airlifted to Hospital

A woman was airlifted to the hospital after slipping and falling at Eaton Canyon on Monday evening.

A 25-year-old woman was "lucky to be alive" today after she lost her footing and fell from the waterfalls at Eaton Canyon Monday, authorities said.

Firefighters and a sheriff's search-and-rescue team were called to Eaton Canyon at 6 p.m., said Capt. Mark Savage of the county fire department.

Savage said the initial report was that the woman had fallen 100 feet. Later, he said that the woman may have slid down the cliff for the first 75 feet and then went into a freefall for the last 25 feet.

"She landed on flat ground between two boulders. If she had hit the boulders, it would have been very bad,'" Savage said.  "As it is, she's lucky to be alive."'

Savage said that her injuries appeared to be moderate when she was taken to a trauma center for evaluation and treatment.

"We hope she escaped any serious injuries," he said. The woman was hiking with three others when she lost her footing.

khadija June 05, 2012 at 03:56 AM
This was my daughter's high school friend. My daughter and another friend were on their way to meet them. Miraculously, she is fine.
Lisa Hastings June 05, 2012 at 04:15 AM
I guess they decided to ignore the signs warning against climbing/hiking above the waterfalls. And now she is lucky to be alive thanks to the Search and Rescue team who risked their own lives to rescue her. Here we go again.
khadija June 05, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Such a compassionate person you are. Glad you aren't my neighbor.
michele Zack June 05, 2012 at 08:03 AM
I think more common sense, not compassion, is what is needed in regard to hiking to second falls at Eaton Canyon. It is simply not a casual hike for non-experts, and the amount of resources going toward resucing them every week is really sort of ridiculous. If people were billed for rescues, perhaps they would become more prudent?
khadija June 05, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Facts: 1) Last year I fell in Fish Canyon in Azusa. I consider myself a fit and experienced hiker and I am 54. I was with my husband and lost my footing on a trail. I fell backwards and instinctively threw my upper body forwards and landed on my stomach at which point I started sliding down the 10'incline towards a 50"cliff. Luckily for me, my husband grabbed my arm and stopped me from falling. 2) The young woman (X) who fell was hiking with a young man (Z) and my daughter and another were headed up to meet them. Z said of the incident, "X was there one minute and then just disappeared". Unfortunately he wasn't able to help her. X grew up in Altadena and her parents have owned their home here for 20 years. 3) Many of Altadena's residents (including my family and X's) choose to live in Altadena because of it's beauty and proximity to mountains and trails. We own our houses and pay taxes gladly to participate in this community. The Sheriffs and Search and Rescue are paid for through our taxes. We gladly participate in this system to benefit from and contribute to it. I am positive that X's family will gladly pay whatever billis presented to them for the hospital and/or helicopter. 4) Folks who don't like this American system of community or the fact that it includes the mountains and all that entails have a few choices. They can rent and not participate in paying into these services which they themselves may well benefit from, or they can move.
khadija June 05, 2012 at 02:39 PM
That was a 50 FOOT cliff i was sliding towards lol.
Judy Bass June 05, 2012 at 03:47 PM
One can feel great compassion for this young woman and be glad she survived. That doesn't excuse the fact that she and her friends ignored many, many warnings about not climbing above the first waterfall. Two young men died last year doing the same thing - no amount of compassion will bring them back.
khadija June 05, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I agree Judy, but what do we do, shut down the trails? Complaining, "here we go again" and implying that Search and Rescue somehow exists to do something else, or that "amount of resources going toward resucing" could be spent elsewhere? Let's save money and resources by closing down the debris basins that protect the numerous wealthy homeowners since that only serves some people. As I pointed out, I fell in an area that is open to the public and is supposedly a "safe" trail. These young people hike regularly and are in fact in an outdoors club. I agree they shouldn't have been somewhere that is unsafe, I am not sure exactly where they were but I am going to ask my daughter about the signage there.
MtnManMike June 05, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I've been hiking, biking, camping and partying in the front range for almost forty years, and I can honestly say that anyone can be the victim of a fall. Because the range is steep and old, there are numerous places where the most experienced hiker can slip. Decomposed granite crumbles underfoot. Seemingly solid hand-holds break off. Wide climbers head elsewhere for their sport. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful range, full of great places to explore. Although it might be tempting to close Eaton Canyon, I believe that we should keep it open. For some reason, it attracts the asshats, but at the same time, they are not heading for the other trails. Sort of like fly paper. There are numerous signs warning of the dangers, yet every week there is a rescue of some sort. Some people, you just can't reach. To them, I say good luck!
Leslie M Wilkins June 05, 2012 at 05:07 PM
The signs are there for a reason...it's dangerous people!! Expert hiker or novice; you are not immortal and to ignore the warning signs is stupid and foolish.
doris finch June 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
First, any discussion of closing Eaton Canyon should be off the table. It is beautiful area, used by many, most of whom don't get into trouble. That said, perhaps we need a double standard. Anyone can have a mishap anywhere, and for those on marked trails. Search and Rescue is there for tham, without cost. For those who willfully choose to go into hazardous unmarked places and then get into trouble, perhaps there should be a mechanism for having them take some responsiibility for the cost and danger to others involved in a rescue. I don't feel that paying my taxes gives me the right to do foolish dangerous things that will cost everyone dearly.
khadija June 05, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I don't believe the area was marked with a sign where they hiked in. They were headed to the lower waterfall and someone coming out said that there was another waterfall up higher that they should check out. They had never been there before so they went. I haven't spoken to them cause they are both pretty traumatized, but I would be surprised if they had hiked beyond danger signs. These are level headed young people that hike often, as I have said. I will personally find out exactly where they hiked and go there myself to see if there is signage. That said, my point about paying taxes is that Search and Rescue is for emergencies. As a part of a COMMUNITY that WELCOMES people in, emergencies and accidents happen, intentionally going past danger signs or not.
Mike June 05, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I think I understand this right. It's signed no hiking, yet folks continue to go "out of bounds"? No amount of taxes pay for this. What they are doing is wrong and they need to stop this.We ALL pay taxes to use this national forest area, not just the local community.
doris finch June 05, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Mike, I doubt we will ever be able to stop foolish or risky behaviour, try as we may. What we do need to do is have a way to lead or force [if necessary] folks to take responsibility for actions of their own choice. It's call maturity, and you learn it through listening, or the hard way, like most of us.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 05, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Yeah one thing that would help would be a sign right where people cut up the slope. There are signs on the way in, but if these hikers had not intended to hike up the slope, then got bad advice, they would not have noticed the early signs. I think the Forest Service wants to avoid putting a sign in where people cut off the trail because than they are telling people where to cut off the trail. However, I think this is bad policy, because clearly so many people know where it is. A sign there might (just maybe) deter at least a few hikers who decided to try it on the spur of the moment.
Peggy Sue Davis June 06, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I'm surprised that anyone who has lived in Altadena very long doesn't know that hiking up to the second falls is terribly dangerous, signs or not. I'm so glad the young woman wasn't badly hurt. Yes, anyone can fall, but the choices people make leading up to that point often have a lot to do with how severe the consequences are. I live near the canyon entrance and see many people starting down the trail who are almost certainly heading off to trouble, based on what they're wearing (high-heeled sandals, for example) or carrying (cases of beer and even barbecues; I report the latter immediately). Most are lucky enough to make it back in one piece. But that second waterfall seems to tempt even experienced hikers, and I've seen plenty of them airlifted out over the years. I agree with Dan that putting a warning at the cut-off is worth a shot; it might deter some. But even then there will be people who think the sign doesn't apply to them, or who want a challenge, or feel their access rights are being curtailed, and they'll push right ahead. And as frustrated as that makes me, I don't see an option to rescuing them. ; ) I wouldn't be opposed to charging extra for it, however.
khadija June 06, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Thanks Dan, I think this is very helpful info. I was going to go up on Sunday to check it out.
khadija June 06, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I hope everyone reads Dan's comment about NO signs being at the trail cut off.
P Goeders June 06, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Instead of just a simple warning sign, I would think one that is a memorial to all of those who have died trying to get beyond the first falls (names and/or dates/ages) and/or a tally of the number of people rescued each year from that specific location might be much more sobering for the casual "adventurer".
khadija June 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Great idea! I know some guerilla sign makers...
doris finch June 07, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I salute the idea of signage, especially of the memorial type, even listing severe injuries. One caveat however, if anyone goes the independent [guerilla?] route. I'm not sure which bureaucratic entity is responsible for that part of the canyon, but it is probably a good bet they will take umbrage about unofficial signs and may remove them. Don't invest too much until you know they will stay. And we are still left with the question of how we make irresponsible people take responsibility for acts that endanger and cost others a lot. Fine them or make them be on call every time another rescue is needed to serve as best they can?
Judy Bass June 07, 2012 at 12:51 AM
The area above the bridge is Forest Service land, and they don't want to post any signs for reasons which make sense to them. The boundary of the Eaton Canyon Natural Area is actually about 1/4 mile below the bridge. There are warning signs at the Nature Center and throughout the park, but the waterfall is well out of the Nature Center's jurisdiction.
Lisa Hastings June 07, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Yes! What a great idea!
Benjamin Pelletier June 20, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Dan, there is (or, at least, was a few months ago) a sign perhaps 100' past the cutoff, but before the difficult section of the waterfall bypass. It reads: "DANGER This is not an approved trail. Many deaths and injuries requiring rescue have occurred while bypassing the waterfall this way. Be sure to have the necessary skills and equipment before entering any dangerous wilderness area such as this."
rebel mamma June 20, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Benjamin, I hiked up there last Sunday and didn't go all the way to the falls but almost and there was no sign.
Benjamin Pelletier June 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
rebel & Dan, I hiked past the falls on Saturday (6/23) and the sign has been removed. A pity; perhaps someone will put up a new one. If anyone is interested, I have pictures of the old sign.
rebel mamma June 25, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Thanks Benjamin, that is kinda strange/crazy.


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