Camelback Victim Was Brazilian Student With "Science Without Borders" Program
Emanuel Rodrigo Biana Costa Bezerra, with red shirt over shoulders, celebrates on top of Camelback with friends on September 19 just before he collapsed on the trail. The photo was obtained from the victim's family by a Brazilian news outlet, which obscured the faces of the other hikers.
The victim in last month's Camelback Mountain fatality was 22-year-old Brazilian engineering student Emanuel Rodrigo Biana Costa Bezerra.
Local news outlets reported the September 19 incident, but not his name; South American news sites had the full story. New Times obtained the victim's identity on Wednesday from Phoenix police, who identified him as Manuel Rodrigo Viana-Costa-Vezerra.
The Phoenix police and fire department could not immediately release information about the tragedy, but Brazilian newspapers report that Costa Bezerra apparently died from a heat-related illness. An official cause of death hasn't yet been released.
If it was the heat, the Brazilian university student would be the second out-of-towner to die on the popular trail over the summer. An autopsy released last month showed that Seattle hiker Eric Fernandes, whose body was found by hikers off the main trail on June 3, had died from the intense heat.
On Friday, September 19, firefighters reportedly received a call about a man who had fallen a few feet while hiking Echo Canyon Trail, but witnesses told the media the problem appeared to be heat-related.
Brazilian press, who interviewed the victim's family, reported that Costa Bezerra had been hiking with some friends and suddenly began to look like he was physically exhausted. A picture (above) of Costa Bezerra at the summit taken moments before he collapsed doesn't reveal any obvious sign of a problem. He was flown from the mountain with signs of advanced dehydration and died later that day.
Costa Bezerra was an electrical engineering student and fellow from the Federal University of Ceará, and had received a scholarship to study abroad with Brazil's "Science Without Borders" program. He'd been in the Valley studying at Arizona State University for only about a month before the fateful Camelback hike , Brazilian news outlets report. (New Times has not yet received verification of that fact from ASU, but we'll update this post when we hear back.)
It's been an especially weird and deadly year on Camelback since the reopening of Echo Canyon Trail on January 15 following a $4.3 million renovation. In a horrifying mishap in August on a slab just off Echo Canyon Trail, an off-duty Phoenix firefighter and his son's friend fell to their deaths. Details on that incident have yet to be released by authorities.
The city is also reportedly considering harsh restrictions and fines for hiking at night because of a few dolts who don't know how to use a flashlight. In late September, firefighters rescued a total of nine people who'd gotten lost at night. Another lost hiker was treated for minor injuries a few days later after he'd fallen into a ravine.
Part of the problem is simply that a whole lot of people of all skill levels go hiking on Camelback Mountain, as well as other local mountain areas that see nearly as many rescues and body recoveries. Even with the renovation nearly doubling the number of parking spots, the lot at Echo Canyon is often full for several hours each day, especially in the morning.
UPDATE: ASU spokeswoman Julie Newberg released this statement on behalf of the university:
"ASU student Emanuel Biana Costa Bezerra was majoring in electrical engineering as part of the Brazil Without Borders program. ASU offers its sincere condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time."
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