Three people have died at national parks across America since the government shutdown began, with one death going unreported for a week. Meanwhile, trash and human feces continue to bedevil the parks, in the absence of workers to provide even the most basic of basic services.
The government shutdown is entering its third week, with Congress and the president seemingly no closer to an agreement. The sticking point is that President Trump wants $5 billion for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Congress does not seem to be prepared to give him that much. Trump has promised to extend the shutdown for months if necessary.
Feeling the pinch the most are America’s national parks. Many remain open, but are absent workers to staff the cash registers at the gift shops; to keep the toilets operational and stocked with toilet paper; to clean litter; and so on. Also absent are security personnel to keep guests safe — and from doing things they shouldn’t be doing — as well as rangers to find lost guests, and medical personnel to attend to sick or injured guests.
And since the shutdown began, three people have died in national parks.
On December 24, three days after the shutdown began, a teenage girl died at Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend Overlook, a scenic spot along the Colorado River where the waterway makes a sharp turn, leaving a stunning bluff above the river. As the Arizona Republic reported at the time, a 14-year-old girl fell to her death from the 700-foot overlook. Her body was found two days later.
Horseshoe Bend is a famous horseshoe shaped incised meander located near the town of Page, Arizona. Overlooking one of the most spectacular views of Colorado River it has become a place many want to visit for its amazing view.— World Voyagers (@worldvoyagers_) December 29, 2018
Tag a friend with wh… https://t.co/KEkxsqd7sw pic.twitter.com/3uDgVRxxHz
Days later, over at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, a woman was killed by a falling tree. As ABC News reported at the time, high winds at the park knocked over a tree, which fell on and killed 42-year-old Laila Jiwani of Texas.
And on Christmas Day, a visitor to California’s Yosemite National Park fell to his death. The visitor was in an area that remains open to the public, says Andrew Muñoz, a public affairs officer for the National Park Service.
“Medical attention was provided to the visitor, but he died from his injuries. The visitor was not in a closed area.”
That death went unreported for a week, according to Huffington Post, and Muñoz admits that the shutdown hampered efforts in reporting the death.
“The incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown. A news release wasn’t issued because of the shutdown. We aren’t releasing more details.”