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Rescued by Navy chopper, men face charges in Death Valley incident

Updated November 21, 2023 - 7:09 pm

A U.S. Navy helicopter crew had to rescue two motorcyclists who illegally entered a portion of Death Valley National Park, according to a news release.

On Saturday, the two drove around a locked gate, concrete barriers and closure signs on Titus Canyon Road, stated National Park Service Ranger Abby Wines.

One of the men crashed his motorcycle, breaking his collarbone and suffering other injuries.

The men called 911 via a satellite phone just before sunset. Park rangers were not able to reach the injured man in a timely manner due to the road conditions, so they called for helicopter assistance.

The US Navy’s VX-31 helicopter responded from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. They transported the injured man and his companion to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

The two said they were following an app that showed the road was open, so they decided to bypass the closure warnings.

Charges are pending, the release stated.

Many roads in the park have not been repaired yet after the remnants of Tropical Storm Hilary damaged them. Roads are temporarily closed because of safety and resource management concerns. Closures are listed at nps.gov/deva and marked with signs.

Titus Canyon is one of the park’s most popular backcountry drives. When open, the 27-mile high-clearance road provides access to Leadfield ghost town, petroglyphs at Klare Spring, and spectacular canyon narrows.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com.

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