Phoenix Hiker Accidentally Falls 40 Feet to His Death at Papago Mountain, Police Say

Papago Mountain "Hole-in-the-Wall"

Joel Brotherton had been exploring Papago Park's hole-in-the-wall trail Saturday when he fell between 30 and 40 feet, the Phoenix Fire Department said in a tweet.

A 33-year-old hiker described as charismatic and soulful accidentally fell more than 30 feet to his death after falling from a popular overlook on Papago Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, according to a report. Joel Brotherton had been exploring Papago Park's hole-in-the-wall trail Saturday when he fell between 30 and 40 feet, the Phoenix Fire Department said in a tweet.

The man was identified by the Maricopa County Medical Examiners office, ABC15 News reported.

Technical Rescue Teams responded to a mountain rescue at the park around 6 p.m., officials said 

Crews began life-saving measures before Brotherton was taken off the mountain and transported to a hospital in extremely critical condition, authorities said. Brotherton died from his injuries the following day, KNXV reported.

A witness who watched Brotherton fall said he was attempting to climb up the east side of the rock formation when he slipped. The witness said Brotherton was wearing hiking shoes, ABC reported.

The natural rock formation according to the park’s website is described as an “intriguing formation on the park's east side and features a main chamber that looks out over nearby lagoons and the distant downtown skyline, and is great for views." 

According to the park site, the trail to the chamber consists of steps that rise 200 feet in just one-tenth of a mile. The formation was used by the ancient Hohokam civilization to track the position of the sun through a hole in the rock ceiling. 

Investigators haven’t said if Brotherton had gone off trail, 12News reported.

Todd Keller, a captain with the Phoenix Fire Department, said “lots of these mountains are steep.”

“We have a term we like to call trailblazing and that means not getting off the path,” Keller said. “Those trails are there for a reason. You get off the paths, there are loose rocks and loose dirt and that’s where fall injuries happen.

Friends and family were devastated by the tragic and sudden loss.

Brotherton’s mother, Karen Rose, told Fox10 News that her son was a singer and songwriter who was “intelligent, passionate, creative and very funny.” 

“He played guitar, sang, loved the outdoors, and had a large family who loved him very much,” Rose said.

A childhood friend of Brotherton described him “as one of the most incredible people I've had the pleasure of knowing.” “The world lost a huge amount of sunshine on February 6th,” she said. “You never know how important someone is until they are gone.”

A male friend posted on his Facebook how sad he was to hear the news. “This hurts my heart,” he said. “I love you man and you’ll be missed.”