A heroic California zip line course worker sacrificed himself while helping a woman in distress — falling at least 70 feet and dying days later, according to reports.
Joaquin Romero, 34, died from his injuries Monday, two days after he selflessly helped a stranded woman while working at La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Authorities told the newspaper Romero, of Banning, plunged about 70 feet to the ground, suffering several blunt force injuries.
Moments earlier, Romero was assisting a woman getting hooked onto a platform when she started sliding out on the line, a witness told KSWB.
But Romero couldn’t stop her, so he grabbed onto her harness, causing them both to drift out on the zip line while about 100 feet up, the unidentified witness said.
Romero then decided to let go of the woman’s harness in fear that their combined weight would cause the zip line to fall, KSWB reported. The woman he was helping was not hurt, the witness told the station.
Cal Fire Department Capt. Frank LoCoco told the Union-Tribune Romero fell roughly 70 feet. Responding fire crews used ropes and a rescue basket to get him to safety before he was airlifted to a hospital, where he later died.
The zip line course, which opened in 2015, features “thrilling” rides up to 2,700 feet long in which riders can reach speeds up to 55 mph. Anyone at least 4 feet tall and weighing between 65 and 250 pounds can take in the 90-minute guided tour, according to its website.
Norma Contreras, chairwoman of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, which runs the zip line course in San Diego County, said an “in-depth and comprehensive” investigation into the deadly fall was underway, KSWB reported.
“We are saddened and heartbroken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline,” Contreras said. “Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe working environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers.”
Contreras declined further comment until an investigation by state and federal authorities is completed.
“We ask that you join us in keeping our employee and his family in our prayers,” Contreras concluded.
The zip line course has been temporarily closed since Romero’s fall, according to a statement posted online by the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians. A message seeking additional comment from reps at the zip line course was not immediately returned Wednesday.