Park ranger dies in freak accident


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

The National Park Service (NPS) said 78-year-old Park Ranger Tom Lorig was working with visitors at Bryce Canyon’s annual Astronomy Festival at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday when he directed a visitor to a shuttle bus and fell.

During the fall, Lorig hit his head on a large rock.

The visitor quickly notified a nearby law enforcement park ranger as Lorig lay unresponsive on the ground.

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Tom Lorig smiling

Bryce Canyon National Park Ranger Tom Lorig died after he tripped and fell during the Astronomy Festival on June 7, 2024. (National Park Service)

Several park rangers, medically trained bystanders and local EMS provided lifesaving care but could’t revive Lorig.

“Tom Lorig served Bryce Canyon, the National Park Service, and the public as an interpretive park ranger, forging connections between the world and these special places that he loved,” Park Superintendent Jim Ireland said in a statement. “As our community processes and grieves this terrible loss, we extend our deepest condolences to all of Ranger Lorig’s family and friends. We also want to express gratitude to the National Park Service and Garfield County emergency services staff who responded as well as to the bystanders who assisted NPS first responders.”

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

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A ranger's 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 started his time with NPS in June 1968 at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Over the decades that followed, he served at 13 other national park sites, 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.

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“Tom was a dedicated public servant, and his loss will be felt by the many who knew him across the National Park Service,” a post on the Bryce Canyon NPS Facebook page reads.



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