John Jutiyasantayanon Is Second Young Man to Die at Eaton Canyon Park in 1 Week; Hikers Dare Each Other to 'Conquer Diablo Falls' on YouTube

Thrill-seekers scale Eaton Canyon's second waterfall
Thrill-seekers scale Eaton Canyon's second waterfall
YouTube

An employee-in-training at Southern California Edison (electricity provider for much of L.A. County) died Saturday after a 50-foot fall at Eaton Canyon Park.

John Jutiyasantayanon, a 23-year-old Montclair resident and graduate from Cal Poly Pomona, was the second young hiker to die within the last week on the slippery, rocky trail. On July 31, Los Angeles resident Erwin Molina, 26, took a fatal 35-foot fall from the first waterfall on the hike. But volunteers who work at the trailhead (wishing to remain anonymous) told us Jutiyasantayanon had been trying to reach the second waterfall, located about 30 feet above the first...

... an unofficial "water slide" destination that L.A. Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian strongly advised against trying to reach when we spoke to her about Molina's death last week.

According to Jutiyasantayanon's LinkedIn profile, he attended high school at John A. Rowland High in the Valley and went on to major in electrical engineering.

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The Eaton Canyon volunteers called this the "worst year ever" for accidents on the trail, especially among unprepared young men who "think they're invincible," and largely blamed adventurists' Eaton Canyon survival vids on YouTube and Facebook for the surge in interest.

Indeed -- one uploader writes, jokingly, "Only through the the constant awareness of our impending death can we truly appreciate life and the time we dwell on this earth." His July 27 video:

And there's a lot more where that came from. The YouTube stunts are classic brazen-boy, with metal soundtracks and whoops of encouragement from fellow hikers.

"They post these videos of people going nuts in the waterfall -- just acting crazy," says one volunteer. "They think it's like a theme park or something. But this is nature in the raw. This is the real thing."

Unlike in Yosemite, where surging waterways are making for the park's highest death rate ever this summer, Eaton Canyon volunteers tell us the northeast L.A. County trail's danger has "nothing to do with the water." Instead, they blame it on unprepared hikers who "go off the trail and climb up the side to get to the other falls."

From the AP report on Jutiyasantayanon's death:

A female companion tried to help John Jutiyasantayanon, 23, after he fell around 9:30 a.m. near a waterfall in Eaton Canyon but got stuck, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Debra Herman said.

Other hikers tried to perform CPR on the Montclair man before rescuers arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. ...

Also this week, a man broke his legs when he fell off a cliff in the same area.

Is the X-treme draw of the Eaton Canyon waterfalls, open to the public and free of charge, turning the nature hike into a death trap? And is that only drawing more interest from adrenaline junkies? Weigh in, below.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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