California Man Plummets 300 Feet to His Death While Camping

A California man fell to his death last week after wandering away from the campsite where he and his friends were staying.

According to the Fresno Bee, 26-year-old Zachary Penn fell an estimated 300 feet off the side of a cliff and died as a result of his injuries.

He reportedly walked away from the campsite to relieve himself around 10 pm Wednesday night and did not return. The friends Penn was camping with reported him missing but discovered his body at the foot of a cliff before deputies arrived.

The friends were camping near Shaver Springs Road and Tollhouse Road, which is a granite dome about an hour outside of the city of Fresno. Millions of Americans go camping each year; more than 42 million went on a camping trip in 2011.

While hiking is one of the most popular camping activities, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Leaving a group, a campground, or a marked trail can result in falls like these or other tragic consequences. In a survey conducted by The Outdoor Foundation, a little less than 70% of respondents reported that they usually camp in public campgrounds, but many of them are not open during the winter months.

“Camping is an outdoor experience that can often be dangerous,” said Bruce Aljets, president of Sioux Falls Yogi Bear Camp-Resorts. “People need to be aware of existing conditions and respond accordingly. Our condolences to family and friends.”

Penn’s body was discovered late Wednesday night, but his body was unable to be recovered until early Thursday morning. The Monterey Herald reports that Penn’s body was recovered with the help of American Ambulance’s STAR rescue team and was taken to a Coroner’s office.

Authorities say at this point that it is unclear whether or not alcohol played a role in Penn’s fall.

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