Phoenix police have identified Joshua Ruzsa, 19, as the victim in a fatal fall that was the result of bee attack yesterday at Camelback Mountain. Ruzsa's Facebook site says he was a 2011 graduate of the E-Institute in Surprise, attended Glendale Community College and was preparing to enter U.S. Marine Corps boot camp next year.
Ruzsa and two friends began hiking at the Echo Canyon trail head on Monday afternoon before climbing up the face, which we detailed in our previous post today.
When the cloud of bees descended on the trio, "Joshua attempted to climb higher up the face of the mountain to get away from the bees and get to the top," Phoenix police Sergeant Trent Crump wrote in a bulletin released this morning. "The two other climbers found a nearby alcove in the face of the mountain and covered their faces with their hands. Both of these witnesses heard Joshua yelling for help as he fell to his death below."
Ruzsa fell an estimated 60 feet. He was pronounced dead at the scene by public safety officials.
The other two men, aged 18 and 20, were stung hundreds of times each and had to be helicoptered off the cliff. They were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, Crump stated.
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Although the bees were a major factor in Ruzsa's fall, the incident also highlights the need for caution when rock-climbing at Camelback.
The Phoenix mountain has a long tradition of rock-climbing that goes back to the 1940s, and the 57-acre Echo Canyon park has numerous cliff faces that entice both experienced climbers and hikers who decide impulsively to go vertical.
Valley resident Chelsey McHale has been trying to get Phoenix to install a sign warning people about the dangers of climbing since her brother, Clint, slipped and fell to his death in May of 2011. Phoenix officials have indicated they'll put something up.