A visitor at Yosemite National Park reportedly fell to his death on Christmas Day, and the incident went unreported until now due to the ongoing government shutdown, a National Park Service spokesman said.
“The incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown,” Andrew Muñoz, a public affairs officer for the National Park Service, told Outside Magazine Thursday. “A news release wasn’t issued because of the shutdown. We aren’t releasing more details.”
NPS representatives did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment. (The NPS has said media lines would also be impacted by the shutdown.)
Muñoz told Outside Magazine’s Wes Siler that dispatchers at the Yosemite National Park Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call on the afternoon of Dec. 25 “regarding a male park visitor with a head injury above Nevada Fall.”
“Rangers were on scene in less than an hour and the visitor was removed from the water,” Muñoz said. “Medical attention was provided to the visitor, but he died from his injuries. The visitor was not in a closed area.”
Though national parks have closed during previous government shutdowns, Yosemite is one of numerous sites that remain open but are sorely understaffed right now while parts of the government are shut down.
The NPS typically employs around 800 staff at Yosemite during the winter season, but one ranger at the park told Outside Magazine on Thursday that only about 50 employees were working at the park after the shutdown went into effect at the end of December.
Muñoz did not comment on whether a lack of staffing impacted how quickly rangers reached the man who fell.
But CNN reported on Friday that understaffing at national parks would likely impact things like maintenance and cleaning, as well as emergency services.
“For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities or road maintenance,” Jeremy Barnum, an NPS spokesman, told the outlet.
One hiker at Big Bend National Park broke his leg in a fall and was assisted by other visitors before being intercepted by a park ranger.
“I can only imagine what someone else might be going through right now who needs a service that they can’t get,” he told CNN.
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