Joaquin Romero: Zipline operator falls to death while saving woman stranded on ride
Joaquin Romero was employed with the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in the Pauma Valley in California
A California zipline official sacrificed his life to save a woman after fearing they would both fall under their combined weight.
Thirty four-year-old Joaquin Romero was employed with the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in the Pauma Valley in California. He was helping the woman, who has not been identified, get hooked on the zipline Saturday, October 30, when she slid out on the line. Romero allegedly grabbed onto her harness to stop her but got dragged away from the platform in the process.
As reported by Fox 8, the pair dangled roughly 100 feet above the ground. An unnamed pal of Romero said he feared both him and the woman would fall from the extra weight, and so he decided to let go. According to the report, a zip line usually has the capacity to hold 250 pounds, with a minimum of 65 pounds.
Romero plummeted 100 feet and sustained major trauma injuries before he was rescued by Cal Fire who used a low-angle rope system to pull him to the roadside. The official was subsequently airlifted to Sharp Memorial Hospital in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, where he succumbed to his injuries Monday morning. "He arrived pulseless and [CPR] was initiated," the medical examiner's office said on Tuesday, November 2. "Following admission, the decedent was diagnosed with multiple blunt force injuries. The decedent was given a poor prognosis and his family decided to place him on comfort care measures which were administered until his death."
Romero was pronounced dead at 9:26 am on Monday, and his sacrifice meant the woman would escape the ordeal uninjured. “We are saddened and heartbroken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline," Normal Contreras, tribal chairwoman with the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, told Fox 8 in a statement on Monday. "The Tribe, Tribal officials, employees, and Tribal members extend our sincere condolences to our employee and his family for their loss. Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe working environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers. Given the circumstances of the accident, the Tribe is conducting an in-depth and comprehensive investigation, in coordination and cooperation with federal and state authorities. Until this investigation is completed, we won’t be able to provide any further comment on this incident." The statement added, "We ask that you join us in keeping our employee and his family in our prayers.”
It's worth noting that approximately 16 people die every year from ziplines. According to Fox 8, La Jolla offers three different choices of ziplines, ranging from 300 to 2,700 feet and reaching speeds of up to 55 mph. The La Jolla Tribe opened its first campground in 1930 and the La Jolla zipline is their latest attraction open to the public since September 2015.
Romero's devastated family members and his wife Rhonda's co-workers are reportedly hosting a grab-and-go fish taco fundraiser on November 5 to help the family with expenses. "This fundraiser is to help the family out with the recent loss of Rick's brother Joaquin Romero," family friend Naomi Howard shared on Facebook, noting that a plate costs $5 with the option of donating more.