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Part-time ranger killed by falling tree at Yosemite

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:06 am |
January 23, 2012 7:06 am

From the National Park Service:

Ryan Hiller, an employee of Delaware North Companies and a former seasonal protection ranger for the park, died last Saturday when a tree landed on his tent cabin in the stables housing area during a storm. The park has released the following statement: “With intense sadness, we share with our employees and partners the news regarding the death of Ryan Hiller during Saturday’s winter storm event.  Ryan was employed by DNC and worked this past summer for the Yosemite Protection Division at Little Yosemite Valley, where he was involved in many Half Dome emergency responses.  Although the investigation is ongoing, initial information is that Saturday’s storm and associated thunderstorm with winds resulted in a tree failing in North Pines Campground adjacent to the stables. The tree landed on the tent cabin in the stable complex occupied by Ryan causing traumatic injuries.  He was to work at Badger Pass Ski Area this winter. Coworkers describe Ryan as a strong, soft spoken, stoic ranger.  His focus was that of public service and he had the character and qualities to pursue that dream. Emblematic of this was an encounter during the summer of 2011 intervening to save a life. Ryan hiked four miles from Little Yosemite Valley to the sub-dome and then ascended the cables to the summit of Half Dome at dusk.  There he and a fellow ranger met an individual who rangers had identified as suicidal but willing to seek assistance.  He then was a participant in the descent and escort team during nightfall to safely bring the person out of the backcountry without further incident. Ryan attended the seasonal ranger training center in Silva, North Carolina, in the fall of 2010.  He had completed two seasons at the Devils Postpile and one season at the Grand Canyon as a trail crew worker. Ryan brought a diverse background of outdoor experiences, including working as a deckhand for a summer on a fishing boat in Alaska, hiking 1,200 miles of the Appalachian trail, and working as a veterinary assistant, a farm manager, horse caretaker, just to name a few. Ryan had a love of wild places and had determined to dedicate himself to protecting them.  Ryan was planning on returning to work in Yosemite National Park as a backcountry ranger in Little Yosemite Valley and was excited to attend Yosemite’s Mounted Horse Patrol School. We extend our condolences to the Hiller family, friends, and co-workers here in Yosemite and in his home town. Ryan is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and would have turned 28 this month. We also extend our appreciation to the staff who responded to this tragic incident.”

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