Rainier park officials finish investigation of Patten native’s death

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 23, 2013, at 3:56 p.m.

PATTEN, Maine – Investigators at Mount Rainier National Park have finished their probe into a mountain-rescue accident that killed town native Nick Hall last June and will present its findings to his family in a month, the park’s chief ranger says.

The investigation of the death of Hall, a park climbing ranger, was finished this week. Rainier Park Superintendent Randy King has shared its results with National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and will share them with the family when he returns from a paid leave, said Chuck Young, chief ranger at Mount Rainier National Park.

“I am not expecting any big surprises or anything like that,” Young said. “Even before the report was out, we looked at things we can change and things that we will be doing differently here. Hopefully we will never have to go through this again.”

Hall’s mother, Mary Hall, deferred comment Saturday until the report’s release.

The 33-year-old Hall fell 2,500 feet on June 21 on the Emmons glacier of Washington’s Mount Rainier while helping engineer a helicopter rescue of four climbers from Waco, Texas, from a crevasse near the summit. Some sources initially said he fell about 3,700 feet.

Hall’s body landed at the 11,300-foot level on the north side of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier in an area prone to avalanches. Poor weather and hazardous mountain conditions delayed the retrieval of his body about three weeks.

A four-year veteran of the park’s climbing program, Hall came from a family of EMTs. He served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, achieving the rank of sergeant, and worked for several rescue and EMT services before starting his duties at Mount Rainier National Park, his father, Carter Hall, has said.

Hall was praised by family and colleagues in memorial services in Patten and in Washington state as being very dedicated, hard-working and conscientious. Hall was remembered as a taciturn, athletic man who had a consuming passion for the outdoors — mountain climbing, skiing, hiking, bicycling — since he was a boy in Patten.

Per standard procedure in the wake of such accidents, Jarvis will review the investigation report and implement changes to park procedures at Rainier, and elsewhere as needed, before the family review occurs. Then the report’s findings will be made public, Young said.

“There are usually some things that go beyond Rainier that we can look at in other regions of the country or sometimes it is nationwide. Everything is kind of on the table here,” Young said.

“We are still grieving the loss of our colleague and our friend. In his memory — and his honor, as he was in the process of rescuing other people — we certainly take seriously our obligation to our employees,” Young added. “This is the worst thing that could happen to any staff and certainly to any family.”

“Not only are we grieving for ourselves, but we are grieving for Nick’s family.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/23/news/penobscot/rainier-park-officials-finish-investigation-of-patten-natives-death/ printed on August 23, 2014