SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST – After failing to show up for his flight, a french pilot who was last seen hiking in Sequoia National Park was reported missing. The next day, a search and rescue operation discovered a body at the base of a cliff in an area known as “The Notch” on Mt. Whitney.
On Oct. 19, the National Parks service (NPS) located a motionless hiker, later identified as Tom Gerbier, a French National and pilot for Air France. The operation was initiated on Wednesday and led by Inyo County’s Sheriff’s Office (ICSO).
After a flyover of the mountain yielded no results, the ICSO and NPS launched ground teams, who found clues that a hiker may have fallen off the mountain.
Following the discovery, the NPS helicopter assisting with search operations located a motionless hiker with clothing matching the description provided. The body was recovered that evening and transferred to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, who confirmed it to be Gerbier.
It is assumed that the french pilot had fallen about 1,000 feet sometime during his hike on Tuesday Oct. 17. Gerbier’s death marks the 2nd fatality for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this year. Nearly 2 million visitors from across the U.S. and the world visit these neighboring parks each year.
According to officials, the success of the operation was made possible through the assistance and collaboration of the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo Search and Rescue Team, and the climbing community.