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Hiker plunges from a trail in Zion Park

SHARE Hiker plunges from a trail in Zion Park

A Saint Louis man fell to his death Friday while descending the Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park.

Search and rescue crews found the body of Barry Goldstein, 53, shortly after he had fallen several hundred feet from the trail, said park spokesman David Eaker.

"The man was visiting the park and had family with him," said Eaker.

Mike Farley, an eyewitness to the accident, said Goldstein had been traveling with a large group that appeared to be a wedding party.

Farley and other adults were accompanying a church group of 14- and 15-year-old boys and were eating lunch at a nearby peak when they witnessed the accident.

"We were sitting there and couldn't believe what were were watching," said Farley. "It was a sheer dropoff. There were no second chances when he went off."

Farley and his group immediately dialed 911, describing witnessing the scene as "unbelievable."

"They had left 10 minutes before us and were crossing narrow neck. The guy (Goldstein) had been standing near the edge ... the man who was next to him before he fell later told me that he (Goldstein) was goofing off near the edge and the ground crumbled as he stepped back," said Farley. "We could

see him fall.... Just like that he was gone."

Washington County sheriff's deputies and park officials are still investigating the case, Eaker said.

According to the park's Web site, five other people have died while hiking Angels Landing since July 2006. The hike is described as strenuous with steep trails that provide hikers with "spectacular views of Zion Canyon."

A sixth death not accounted for on the Web site took place in August when Bernadette Vandermeer, 29, of Las Vegas accidentally fell to her death while hiking the trail with her husband.

Park officials closed the trail for a short time following Friday's accident but reopened it to hikers later that afternoon.

E-mail: nhale@desnews.com