Parking attendant dies in bizarre accident

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A ranger at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park died Friday after sustaining injuries while working with visitors at an annual astronomy event.

The National Park Service (NPS) said that around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, 78-year-old park ranger Tom Lorig was busy with visitors at the annual astronomy festival in Bryce Canyon when he was guiding a visitor to a shuttle bus and fell.

When he fell, Lorig hit his head on a large rock.

The visitor quickly notified a nearby park ranger as Lorig was lying motionless on the ground.

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Tom Lorig smiles

Bryce Canyon National Park ranger Tom Lorig died after tripping and falling during the astronomy festival on June 7, 2024. (National Park Service)

Several park rangers, medically trained passers-by and the local emergency services provided life-saving assistance, but were unable to resuscitate Lorig.

“Tom Lorig served Bryce Canyon, the National Park Service and the public as a park ranger, creating connections between the world and these special places he loved,” park superintendent Jim Ireland said in a statement. “As our community processes and mourns this terrible loss, we extend our deepest condolences to Ranger Lorig’s family and friends. We also want to thank the National Park Service and Garfield County emergency responders who responded, as well as bystanders who assisted NPS first responders.”

According to NPS, Lorig worked as a nurse in the Seattle area for 40 years and was also a permanent, seasonal and volunteer park ranger for more than 10 years.

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A ranger hat sits on a fence

Ranger Tom Lorig was directing a visitor when he fell and hit his head on a large rock. (National Park Service)

Lorig began his time with the NPS in June 1968 at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

In the decades that followed, he worked at 13 more national parks, including Badlands, Bryce Canyon, El Malpais, Florissant Fossil Beds, Glen Canyon, Klondike Gold Rush, Mount Rainier, New River Gorge, Olympic, Saguaro, Yosemite, Zion and Dinosaur National Monument.


“Tom was a dedicated public servant and his loss is deeply felt by the many at the National Park Service who knew him,” said a post on the Bryce Canyon NPS Facebook page.