Kayaker's death prompts call for trail safety changes

Pictured is a file photo from California Highway Patrol Northern Division Air Operations, Helicopter 14 Crew. (Courtesy CHP)

Siskiyou County investigators are calling a man's death a tragic accident but what happened may lead to some changes.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter assisted in recovering the body of an experienced Kayaker who slipped and fell off of a cliff.

"Everyone has to kind of give pause and be careful what they are doing and realize this can happen to anyone," Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said.

It happened at the Box Canyon Dam Access Trail near for the Sacramento River Thursday evening. Investigators said Leif Hansen, 61, of Mount Shasta, was wearing a helmet and carrying the kayak when he lost his footing. He fell in an inaccessible area in an apparent accident, according to Lopey.

In a press release, Lopey said a companion and local physician immediately responded to the victim’s location, which was near the river bank and initiated life-saving aid, including CPR.

"Despite a prolonged and heroic attempt to revive the man, his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful and the victim succumbed to his injuries and he was pronounced dead at the scene," Lopey said.

Hansen was a long-time resident and active, popular member of the local community and an experienced kayaker.

"Some times it's the experienced people. Everybody has to kind of give pause and be careful what they are doing and realize this can happen to anyone," Lopey said.

While a guide rope has been installed on the trail, Lopey said he expects to make recommendations on appropriate safety measure changes to county leaders and Siskiyou County Flood Control & Water Conservation District and the Siskiyou Power Authority who may be responsible for the Box Canyon Dam access trail.

While he admits it's probably a tragic accident, Lopey said his office is ordering toxicology tests and a post-mortem examination on Hansen as due diligence in the investigation.

“On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the decedent, his family, and friends in the aftermath of his tragic death. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Hansen’s companions and commend them for the extraordinary efforts to rescue and revive him after his fall," Lopey said.

Anyone with information about this case that has not already been interviewed by law enforcement personnel is urged to contact SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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