Updated below with a photo of Molina, an L.A. resident who reportedly attended Los Angeles High.
A young man who died Sunday evening while hiking with three friends at Eaton Canyon Park (located just east of Altadena) has been identified as Erwin Molina. The Pasadena Fire Department has IDed him as 26 years old, but the L.A. County Coroner's Office says all they're sure of is that the victim was in his 20s.
According to Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian, Molina reached the first of two waterfalls on the park's main trail around 6:30 p.m.
“At the first waterfall, people like to climb up and take photos,” she says. But “it's very challenging terrain.”
After Molina fell 35 feet to the “rocky canyon bottom” below, his friends called 911. A search-and-rescue team then hiked to where the victim lay — about a mile-and-a-half into the trail — and found him in critical condition.
First responders gave Molina an IV on scene before he was airlifted out with a helicopter. He died a short while later at Huntington Hospital.
SoCal hiking blog Modern Hiker calls the trip to the first waterfall “suitable for adventurous beginners”:
Eaton Canyon is one of those must-see hiking areas of L.A., both because the waterfall is actually impressive by San Gabriel standards, and that it's so darn close to the city that you really don't have any excuses not to go. The trail is easy to follow, and as long as you can hop across some boulders in a river (or have some hiking sandals to wade through), you'll be just fine getting through the hike.
Derderian says that though Pasadena firefighters “respond to several rescues typically up in that area, usually it's more sprained ankles and broken arms.” However, a similar fatality did occur last year.
This time, Molina's death could have been related to a light rainfall that fell in the area on Sunday, which — according to Derderian — could have given the rocky trail an extra layer of slipperiness.
“There were a lot of variables with the terrain and the weather,” she says. “Even experienced hikers that could happen with.”
She adds that the Fire Department advises against attempting to climb to the second waterfall, and recommends bringing “cellphones… extra water, maps, and identification.”
Did you know Erwin Molina? Please share below. Also, has anybody had problems with the Eaton Canyon Park trail before?
Update: Weekly commenter Sanchezzz89 says Molina formerly attended Los Angeles High School. What appears to be the victim's Facebook page lists him as a current resident of Los Angeles.
Another commenter, Joliver_15, says he witnessed the fatal fall:
“I personally don't know Erwin, but I was up there at the time him and his friends were. There were about 10 of us at the 2nd waterfall. On the way back some of his friends were ahead of others. He was about 30-40ft behind us. I believe he took a wrong turn down and ended up in a bad spot. Screams were heard as I rushed down but it was too late.”