Joaquin Romero, a worker with La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in Southern California, died this weekend after falling nearly 70 feet. Romero sacrificed himself to save a female rider who was in danger of falling.
According to witnesses, the accident took place on Saturday at the receiving end of the zip line. Romero was working in that area and in charge of pulling people onto the platform when they ended the course.
One woman didn’t land correctly and she started sliding back up the zip line before Joaquin Romero could grab her. The young man decided to grab onto the woman’s harness to stop her from moving any farther and the two dangled nearly 100 feet above the ground.
A friend of Romero’s, who was there at the time of the accident and later identified the body, believes that his friend let go of the woman’s harness and plunged to his death because he was worried that their combined weight would snap the zip line and kill them both.
Joaquin Romero fell nearly 70 feet and fire and rescue crews had to use ropes and a basket to safely grab him. He was airlifted to the hospital where he passed away two days later.
According to the Cal Fire Department, Joaquin Romero suffered several blunt force injuries. The woman he was trying to help was unharmed.
Since his death, many people have started to call the California man a hero. They have taken to social media to share his story and make sure that others know what happened to this young man.
One Twitter user wrote, “I can’t be too sure of the veracity of this story… However, assuming Joaquin Romero did perform the heroic deed that he is supposed to have done, I honor this man’s sense of duty, courage, and selflessness with cold brew this evening. Join me in tribute.”
The zip line, which is called the longest in Southern California, is closed while the La Jolla tribe and state police run an investigation. The company offers three different zip lines to customers and riders can all reach speeds of around 55 mph.
The La Jolla Indian reservation first opened their area to guests in 2015 and recently opened their new zip line attraction. Customers are also able to go tubing down the San Luis Rey River.
The three zip lines, which range from 300 to 2,700 feet in length, cover much of the the La Jolla Indian reservation. Customers are able to fly through the beautiful Palomar mountain range and take in the breathtaking views from way up high.
Norma Contreras, chairwoman for the tribe, issued a statement and offered their condolences for the family of Joaquin Romero.
She said, “We are saddened and heart-broken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline,” she said. “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.”
Friends and family of Romero have put on a taco fundraiser to raise money for his family. The event, which will be this Friday, is $5 per plate and all the money will go towards his family.
A GoFundMe has also been set up by the victim’s brother. That money will go toward his funeral costs and toward a savings account for his young son. So far, over $8,000 have been raised with a goal of $20,000.
The family has yet to make a statement regarding the tragic accident. According to Facebook posts by Naomi Howard, who seems to be a friend of the family, they don’t wish to talk to reporters at this time.