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Man dies, woman injured after pair tumble down California waterfall

Photo of Andrew Chamings

File photo of Big Falls in San Bernadino County. 

File photo of Big Falls in San Bernadino County.

US Forest Service

A guy died and a female was injured if they fell down a waterfall in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains on Sunday, the sheriff’s department said.

Rescue crews responded at around 3: 20 p.m. to get the unnamed female, 43, performing CPR on the male, also 43, at the bottom of Big Falls. Officials said the pair fell from the center falls to the low falls at the favorite destination along a hiking trail about 80 miles east of LA. The Riverside woman was airlifted to Loma Linda University INFIRMARY in a San Bernardino Sheriffs Department helicopter, and the person, from Hemet, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Big Falls trail is really a well-traveled hike in your community, with the shortest 0.7-mile trail garnering over 600 reviews on All Trails. The trail offers a view of the five-tiered waterfall, situated among giant redwoods in the tiny Forest Falls community.

As the base trail itself is rated as “easy,” a warning on the U.S. Forest Service site reads, “Usually do not hike/climb at night overlook! It is extremely DANGEROUS due to the loose, slippery, and steep terrain.”

In 2019, the LA Times reported that the high frequency of falls originated from more adventurous hikers exploring top of the, more perilous tiers of the waterfall, with a definite rock causing so many slips it became referred to as “Blood Rock.” All off-trail access was closed then but reopened in 2020.

Sunday’s incident marks the next fatality at the location this season; another California man, Robert Carey Jr., 33, plunged 80 feet to his death there in-may.

In that incident, Carey was apparently wanting to scale the 11,500-foot-tall San Gorgonio Mountain peak the tallest mountain in Southern California. After his family reported him missing, his body was bought at the bottom of Big Falls the next day.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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