Storm Downs Tree That Kills Concessions Worker At Yosemite National Park

A former seasonal ranger at Yosemite National Park who had been working for the park concessionaire has been killed by a falling tree that crushed his tent cabin in Curry Village during a storm.

Park officials say Ryan Hiller, who would have turned 28 this month, died Saturday.

"With intense sadness, we share with our employees and partners the news regarding the death of Ryan Hiller during Saturday’s winter storm event," park officials said in a prepared statement. "Ryan was employed by (Delaware North Corp.) and worked this past summer for the Yosemite Protection Division at Little Yosemite Valley, where he was involved in many Half Dome emergency responses.

"Although the investigation is ongoing, initial information is that Saturday's storm and associated thunderstorm with winds resulted in a tree failing in North Pines Campground adjacent to the stables. The tree landed on the tent cabin in the stable complex occupied by Ryan, causing traumatic injuries," the statement continued.

According to park officials, one example of Mr. Hiller's dedication to his job and the public came last summer when he and another ranger climbed to the top of Half Dome at dusk to talk to "an individual who rangers had identified as suicidal but willing to seek assistance."

"He then was a participant in the descent and escort team during nightfall to safely bring the person out of the backcountry without further incident," they added.

Mr. Hiller's Park Service resume included two seasons at Devils Postpile National Monument and one season at Grand Canyon National Park as a trail crew worker. His background also included "working as a deckhand for a summer on a fishing boat in Alaska, hiking 1,200 miles of the Appalachian trail, and working as a veterinary assistant, a farm manager, horse caretaker..."

Mr. Hiller had planned to return to work in Yosemite this year as a backcountry ranger in Little Yosemite Valley.

Comments

What sad news. Condolences to the family - I understand why this person was in Yosemite and loved so much to be there. Unfortunately the dangerous housing situation has been known for a long time... ten years ago when I worked for DNC and lived in a Curry Village tent cabin, a huge tree crushed a nearby tent cabin on sunny, blue day in summer. The cabin's occupant was in the showers at the time or something like that. In another incident, rockfall hit several tent cabins that were located too close to the wall. So many near misses just for the short time I was there.

And in 1969 (I think it was), several trees came down in the lodge cabins area, crushed three or four sturdy cabins and killed at least two visitors.

Trees are as dangerous as bears and cougars and precipitous cliffs. The Park Service doesn't do anything about warning visitors of this terrible hazard. It's amazing that no lawyers have latched on to this fact and have persuaded some grieving family members to sue, sue, and sue.

But seriously, this incident was a terrible tragedy and the young man was a ranger even if he wasn't on active duty.