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Updated: Hiker Dies at Hospital After Fall in Eaton Canyon

A young male hiker died at Huntington Memorial Hospital on Sunday night after falling 35 feet from the first waterfall in Eaton Canyon.

A male hiker died Sunday night from injuries sustained from a 35-foot fall in the Eaton Canyon area, according to Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department.

The hiker fell in the first waterfall area, a common area for injured hikers.  He was in critical condition when medical teams reached him, Derderian said, and died in the hospital shortly after being brought there.

The hiker has been identified as 21-year-old Erwin Molina, according to Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the county coroner's office.  Derderian said her information has him as a 26-year-old.

Molina was airlifted out of the canyon around 7:20 p.m, after the helicopter had been circling the canyon area for about 20 minutes.

He had been hiking with three friends, Derderian said, one of whom was able to get cell phone reception and call in the accident.

Derderian said this is the first fatality in the area in 2011, though a hiker died there last summer under similar circumstances, she added.

The department has been making regular rescues in Eaton Canyon this year, she said.

"We're getting mountain rescues almost every weekend," Derderian said.

Editor's note: The information in this story regarding age and other details has been changed several times as new information has come in.

Barbara Ellis August 01, 2011 at 06:03 AM
At least once every weekend, it seems.
Ron Rosen August 01, 2011 at 01:17 PM
It's ridiculous. No one should be allowed in there without posting a bond. No one under 25 should be allowed in there.
True Freedom August 01, 2011 at 05:29 PM
I'm sorry to hear about this accident. The San Gabriels can be an unforgiving place. They are steep, rocky, and loose in some spots. Are there warning signs at the trailhead there? If not, they should put some.. and perhaps little check marks or crosses indicating how many have died. This should give the casual hiker pause to continue.
Robin Thompson August 01, 2011 at 05:33 PM
It's so sad to hear that a young person lost his life after falling near the waterfall in Eaton Canyon. The Patch site lists so many related articles documenting the frequency with which search and rescue has had to come to the aid of people lost, and injured in this specific wilderness area. A good number of which as a result of risky behavior climbing around the falls area. As suggested, the idea of closing the falls to young people is a gut reaction, and being married to Patch Editor Dan Abendschein we've discussed on many occasions the hypothetical ways to make this area less dangerous. Unfortunately, posting warning signs or putting up fences would likely lead to more dangerous behavior as people try to climb over these deterrents, possibly increasing the number and severity of injuries. At the most basic level, this is a wilderness area, and nature can be a dangerous environment. We often take our abilities for granted, prepare poorly, or just get in over our heads in nature, resulting in the necessity for rescue. It all comes back to a need to make nature more safe, and when we cannot do that, it seems the next best course of action is to close it down. That would just result in a loss of another naturally beautiful spot that is within easy access for our greater community. We must monitor ourselves, be careful, talk with the people we know who use these areas to be careful so that we do not risk more injuries and even future deaths.
Robin Thompson August 01, 2011 at 05:34 PM
comment, continued...I have only been to the lower falls, not the upper falls, but perhaps the community at large could join together to create a safer hiking trail to the upper falls? it might be a longer route to the top, but safer than scaling the rock front that seems to be the preferred method to reach the top and result in so many injuries. What do people think about this idea? Has anyone hiked back to the falls and would it be possible to create a safer route to avoid the steep ascent?
doris finch August 01, 2011 at 11:38 PM
In the early 70's, there was no gate on Pinecrest, just a bar that swing across the dirt road to keep cars out. At First Falls there was an admittedly precarious but do-able track up the side with steps, cables and handholds that led to a tunnel for an unused water pipe from the upper canyon. Spryer then, my husband and I, once with our dog, went up into the upper canyon on several occasions. The trail, steps, and cables were removed as an "Attractive Nuisance", supposedly to make it safer. Since then, there have been more deaths and serious accidents than ever. Maybe Robin's idea is a good one. The trail to First Falls is no big deal, aside from several stream crossings which are tricky in high water. We should not let the risky behavior of a few deprive the larger public of a beautiful place.
Jorge Banuelos August 02, 2011 at 08:54 PM
My condolences to the young man's family and friends. My wife had made her way up the trail to the fall with several nieces and nephews on their first hike then they happened across the tragic scene (which had occurred a short while before). The hike to the first waterfall is a great beginners hike. The payoff, the waterfall itself, is really awesome considering how close it is to the city. Of course, there is always risk involved when traveling off city streets and roads. I have seen more than one person scramble up the side of the falls to get to the top, and every time I see this it makes me cringe. It should be said that there is no actual "trail" to get to the top of the falls. There's a reason for that...it's because of the danger involved with getting up there. I think the only way to avert these tragedies is to build a durable and safe trail so that those who insist on getting up over the fall can do so safely. Without a designated trail, I truly believe that this will not be the last tragic accident at this site.
anelle August 03, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Thanks 4 the wise n kind words..this was the first time Erwin Andre Molina (Andy) went there. The last time I saw my brother was around 2pm that sunday and i told him to be careful n i loved him, but unfortunately he never came home. He was a funny and intellectual young man.. He was majoring in English..Andy wanted 2 write books. He had so much going 4 him.. His beautiful hazel n his smile lit up the whole room. I love u sooooo much lil bro. Continuously i am asking why he had 2 take u away from us ... hope 2 c u soon one day love ur big sis Anelle
Dan Abendschein (Editor) August 03, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Anelle, I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for stopping by and telling us about your brother.
Barbara Ellis August 03, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Anelle, my condolences to you and your family on the loss of Andy. This is so sad.
Paul Ayers August 04, 2011 at 02:32 AM
I have tried to find a reasonable way to the second falls for many years and have turned back every time after encountering unacceptable exposure. The area is just very treacherous. None of the governing entities will rebuild the old ladder system as it is only when you alter the natural setting that you incur liability. Perhaps a sign on the trail at the bridge might help but considering the demographic of the injured and dead it may be more of a dare then a deterrent. My condolences to the family.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) August 04, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Paul, when Robin (my wife), who commented above, told me about her idea of a graded trail up there I told her there would be one person who would know whether it was possible or not who would probably show up and comment. I was referring, of course, to you. I'm sorry to hear there is not a good option for a trail. Ladders in the area would be useful though I'm sure many would be unhappy with the alteration to the natural setting (plus, the liability issues you laid out above).
Mark Kulaga August 05, 2011 at 06:35 AM
You can't be serious! This route needs to be made more difficult to keep ill prepared kids and vandals out of there. I was there that day and had to giude down 2 groups of kids that discovered the upper canyon on facebook. I'm not sure but one of the kids may have been the young man that fell. Future sign I will post, route not passable trail out proceed at own risk and financial responsibility. I have a plan to remove the narrow ledge that people fall from to keep idiots out!
Paul Ayers August 05, 2011 at 12:19 PM
At the risk of offense by referring readers to another news source, I would recommend that those interested take a look at the editorial in the yesterdays L.A. Times entitled Yosemite: “The nature of danger”. It can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-yosemite-20110804,0,7603422.story While the editorial specifically speaks to the recent deaths at Vernal Falls and Half Dome, the analysis equally applies to Eaton Canyon. The editorial concludes with the following: “Could more be done? More could always be done. The park could keep people out of the rivers with extensive fencing, perhaps with peepholes for viewing the scenic wonders of the park. It could litter the trails with signs and barriers. But then visitors might as well be on a freeway. Some tourists are injured or killed because they purposely seek out risk; others innocently or ignorantly think a river or an animal or a hillside can't be more dangerous than it looks. Some people enter wilderness areas woefully unprepared, without water, wearing flip flops, and go off-trail. And some visitors don't do anything wrong, but bad things still happen. We can't guard against it all and shouldn't destroy scenic beauty in an effort to fend off liability. Nature has a power and thus an unpredictable danger all its own; that is its very attraction.”
ERICA August 06, 2011 at 04:30 AM
HI, THERE MY NAME IS ERICA AND I WAS THERE IN THAT DAY JULY/31/2011 AND I SAW HIM THERE LAYING ON THE FLOOR IF FAMILY WANTS ANY VIDEO OF THE ACCIDENT PLZ FELL FREE TO EMAIL ME erica_parral@yahoo.com i didnt know andy but i know he was a good guy rest in peace am sorry 4 your lost .
JosephR August 23, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Peace to the families and friends who have lost loved ones in the canyon. The unintended consequence of removing the "attractive nusiance" cable and tunnel has likely led to additional deaths. Mr. Kulaga's suggestion to degrade the ridge route would amount to manslaughter and should be prosecuted as such if someone were to fall. People have come to explore the beauty of the canyon for centuries. Let private parties rig cables and demand the county and forest service keep their hands off removing the assists. The do-gooder paradigm creates greater risk by trying to be proactive. On a side note - hike with a tote bag, pack out found litter and speak out if you see glass or defacement.

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