Beloved park ranger dies in fall in Bryce Canyon, Utah, during annual festival

A beloved National Park Service ranger died when he tripped, fell and hit his head on a rock during an annual astronomy festival in southwest Utah, officials said. park officials announced this weekend.

Tom Lorig was 78 years old when he died after the incident in Bryce Canyon National Park Friday evening.

He was known for his extensive work as a ranger and volunteered at 14 National Park Service sites, including Yosemite National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, the park service said in a press release on Saturday.

“Tom Lorig served Bryce Canyon, the National Park Service and the public as an interpretive ranger, making connections between the world and these special places he loved,” Bryce Canyon Superintendent Jim Ireland said in the press release.

In a separate statement on Facebook, the park said: “Tom was a dedicated public servant, and his loss will be felt by all who knew him in the National Park Service. »

Lorig was directing a Bryce Canyon visitor to a shuttle around 11:30 p.m. — the last shuttle was scheduled to leave the festival at 12:15 a.m. — when he tripped, fell and hit the rock, the park service said.

A park visitor noticed he was unconscious and called for help, according to the release.

Other park rangers, Garfield County Emergency Medical Services first responders and park visitors attempted to resuscitate Lorig, the park service said.

Lorig had worked and volunteered on and off for the Park Service since 1968, when he began a five-year stint at Carlsbad Caverns Underground National Park in New Mexico, according to the National Park Service. He also worked for a time as a registered nurse in the Seattle area.

In June 2013, he drove his truck from his home in Washington state to New Mexico to bring back a historic painted wooden sign that once marked the location of Mirror Lake in the Big Room, 79 stories below the ground level, at Carlsbad Cavern, the park service said.

Lighted signs were installed in the park in 1973 and employees were allowed to take the old ones, he said in a statement in 2013. Lorig described the Mirror Lake sign as “the most coveted.”

Now in the collection of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Museum, the panel includes “mirror-image text that reads right side up when reflected off the surface of the pool,” Lorig said in 2013.

“I’m glad the sign is back at Carlsbad Caverns,” he said then. “This is where he belongs.”

The Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival, which ran Wednesday through Saturday, celebrated space using the night sky. Each year, it offers telescope observations, astrophotography workshops and constellation tours.

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