Hiker's body recovered from Punchbowl Falls after jump
COLUMBIA GORGE, Ore. - One hiker died and three others were injured Sunday after jumping into a shallow pool below a waterfall along the Columbia River Gorge, deputies said.
Deputies on Monday identified the dead hiker as 25-year-old Jason Endicott of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Divers found Endicott's body at about noon Monday. He was underwater in the pool right below the waterfalls. The recovery teams had trouble getting the body from the water and bringing it back down the narrow and steep two-mile trail.
Rescuers think Endicott survived the 80-foot jump but possibly got hurt or sucked back under by strong currents.
A group of five men were hiking the Eagle Creek trail Sunday to Punchbowl Falls, when four of them decided to jump into the pool below the waterfall, said Hood River County sheriff's Sgt. Pete Hughes.
Deputies received a report of the incident at about 5 p.m. Sunday.
Hughes said the combination of the shallow water and extremely cold water makes jumping in too dangerous.
Hughes said the sheriff's office has already been up to Punchbowl Falls this year, helping jumpers who have been injured.
"You're not supposed to jump in the falls there," Hughes said. "It is marked by the U.S. Forest Service. There have been problems here in the past. It's a dangerous thing to do."
It is illegal to jump off Punchbowl falls. The U.S. Forest Service banned jumping off the waterfall two years ago. It made that decision because about 10 people a year were getting seriously hurt and suffered from injuries like broken legs and backs.
The Forest Service tried putting up warning signs right above the falls but it says people kept tearing them down.
"Often times signs are ignored by people, unfortunately," said Jen Kevil, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. "There's always a good reason signs are there warning you of something. People need to understand that."
The group of men is in their early 20s and most of them, if not all, are from out of town.
Two of the three injured men were able to walk out of the falls; the third man needed to be carried out, according to the Hood River County Sheriff's Office. They did not need to be hospitalized.
The cause of Endicott's death is not yet known.
The sheriff wants to talk to the other young men who saw Endicott jump. He's hoping to get pictures or video to understand exactly how Endicott died.