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Joe Evans Book Signing “Death, Despair And Second Chances In Rocky Mountain National Park”

In the national park, in the last couple weeks, rangers have responded to a hiker fall with injuries on Longs Peak; a plane crash in upper Forest Canyon; a hiker sustaining injuries while sliding down a snowfield near Lost Lake; two snow and ice climbers fell with injuries near Ptarmigan Glacier, and a hiker fatality on Longs Peak. Could any of these accidents have been prevented with better planning and awareness of the risks involved?

Retired Chief Ranger Joe Evans thinks so. In his recently published book, Death, Despair and Second Chances in Rocky Mountain National Park, Evans chronicles the nearly 300 fatalities that have occurred in Rocky Mountain between 1884 and 2009. What Evans has found is that there are some predictable situations that park visitors place themselves in, which with a bit of thought, may have prevented a serious injury or death. For example, there are rocks at the bottom of most snowfields. You slip and lose control, you hit the rocks. The simple elevation of the park is a hazard. Almost 25% of all the deaths in the park are due to a heart attack, all of these, likely exacerbated by the thin air. Many visitors don’t realize they are at 8,000 feet or higher and don’t understand the effect this may have on preexisting medical conditions. The same thin air makes it difficult for single engine planes to fly over mountain passes at 11 or 12,000 feet.

What Evans has done is supplement the existing safety information in the national park with real stories of death and despair in order to encourage better awareness, planning and preparedness before venturing into the park. Chapters include bracketed safety messages to reinforce precautions. Evans’s primary goal in writing this book is to reduce accidents in the park through better awareness of potential hazards.

Sprinkled throughout the book are also several stories of “near misses,” where park visitors survived due to skill and determination, sheer luck, or the skill of responding rescuers. There is also a fair dose of local history that visitors, as well as residents, will find informative.

Joe Evans will be available to discuss and sign his book on Thursday, July 29th between 2 and 4 p.m. at Macdonald Book Shop.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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