Man dies in zipline fall while trying to save woman, friend says

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The view from a zipline course at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline in Pauma Valley as seen in June 2018. (KSWB)

PAUMA VALLEY, Calif. (KSWB) — A man died Monday after falling from a zipline in California, according to a close friend, who said it was a selfless act to save someone’s life.

The incident happened Saturday at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County’s Pauma Valley area.

The friend identified the victim as 34-year-old Joaquin Romero, confirming to KSWB that he died Monday morning at Sharp Memorial Hospital. The friend said Romero was an employee at the popular attraction.

A witness said Romero was helping a woman get hooked on the platform when she started sliding out on the line. He couldn’t stop her and grabbed onto her harness, which caused them both to slide out about 100 feet above the ground, according to the witness.

The friend said Romero feared the woman could fall because of the weight, so he decided to let go. According to the witness, the woman was not injured.

When Cal Fire arrived, they found Romero with major trauma injuries. Crews pulled him up to the road using a low-angle rope rescue system. He was then airlifted to the hospital.

Normal Contreras, tribal chairwoman with the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, emailed the following statement to KSWB on Monday:

“We are saddened and heart-broken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline. The Tribe, Tribal officials, employees and Tribal members extend our sincere condolences to our employee and his family for their loss. Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe working environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers. Given the circumstances of the accident, the Tribe is conducting an in-depth and comprehensive investigation, in coordination and cooperation with federal and state authorities. Until this investigation is completed, we won’t be able to provide any further comment on this incident. We ask that you join us in keeping our employee and his family in our prayers.”

The three zipline courses at the attraction range from 300 to 2,700 feet in length and reach speeds up to 55 mph.

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