Arizona man found dead while hiking at Grand Canyon; 10th death there this year

By Associated Press
Published: Saturday, November 18, 2023 - 3:28pm

The National Park Service and local medical examiner are investigating the death of a 65-year-old hiker at Grand Canyon National Park who was found unresponsive on the popular Bright Angel Trail, the agency said Friday.

The agency identified the victim as James Handschy, of Oracle. Park rangers pronounced him dead at the scene on Thursday.

Emergency officials received an SOS from a personal locator beacon at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the trail about 1.5 mile north of Havasupai Gardens, the agency said in a statement Friday. One rescuer responded on foot immediately and search and rescue personnel followed by helicopter soon after.

The service is investigating Thursday’s incident in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner, the agency said.

Handschy had been attempting to hike from the South Rim of the canyon to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon and back, the agency said, a distance of about 18 miles roundtrip.

It marks the 10th fatality this year at the national park that draws nearly 5 million visitors and averages between 10 and 20 deaths annually, a park spokesperson said in an email.

Four deaths have been hiking-related. Three were on the Bright Angel Trail, which the National Park Service says on its website is the premier hiking trail in the park that covers an area nearly as big as the state of Delaware.