Zipline employee dies after falling from La Jolla course


A 34-year-old man died Monday, two days after falling about 70 feet from a zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in northeastern San Diego County, authorities said.

The man has been identified as Joaquin Romero. He lived in Banning in Riverside County and worked at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the reservation, authorities said.

On Saturday afternoon, Romero was working on the “reception” platform and tried to help someone on a zipline before falling, according to the county medical examiner’s office.

A witness told Fox 5 San Diego that Romero was helping a woman hang onto the platform when she began to slide down the zipline. He couldn’t stop it and grabbed his harness, sliding them away.

Romero fell to about 70 feet to the ground and suffered multiple blunt injuries, according to the medical examiner’s office and Captain Frank LoCoco of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters used ropes and a rescue basket to hoist Romero up a road, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a medical helicopter, LoCoco said. Romero was airlifted to hospital, where he died Monday morning.

LoCoco said no one else had been hospitalized.

The reserve’s zipline course, which opened in 2015, is billed as the longest of its kind in Southern California, according to its website. The lines cross canyons, valleys, treetops and the San Luis Rey River.

Norma Contreras, president of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

In a statement to Fox 5, Contreras offered his condolences on behalf of the tribe to Romero’s family.

“We are saddened and heartbroken by the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline,” she said. “Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe work environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our clients.

“Given the circumstances of the accident, the tribe is conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation, in coordination and cooperation with federal and state authorities.”

The Federal Administration for Occupational Safety and Health is investigating, a spokesperson confirmed.

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