CAL FIRE medic being lifted into copter. Copter began leaving site while medic still dangling because of urgent condition of Gose. Photo by Marshall Smith

Karen Gose, 27, of Chino died of injuries sustained while descending a sheer face of Suicide Rock in Idyllwild’s San Jacinto Wilderness.


Gose, a counselor with a group of Girl Scouts from Camp Scherman in Mountain Center, fell 30 feet onto a rock ledge during a rappelling demonstration for camp scouts, according to the coroner’s report.

Heath Haussamen, Gose’s brother-in-law, said in an email that “she [Gose] was setting up a climb for Girl Scout campers” when she fell.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department did confirm that Gose had an experienced climbing partner with her at the time of the accident. Their investigation of the incident is ongoing.

CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department responded, as did Idyllwild Fire Protection District, although IFPD did not participate in the rescue.

The reported time of injury was 12:41 p.m. CAL FIRE helicopter 301 lowered a medic to the rock ledge. He attended to the woman and prepared her for a helicopter hoist. She complained of difficulty breathing. Besides a broken lower right leg, she was thought to have had a broken hip and possible rib damage. Emergency radio traffic advised that Gose was fading in and out of consciousness and that her condition was worsening. At approximately 2:50 p.m. she was hoisted into the CAL FIRE helicopter. The helicopter circled and returned for a hoist of the medic.

At approximately 3:04 p.m. attending personnel transferred Gose into a Mercy Air helicopter for transport to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. She died en route, with time of death listed as 3:21 p.m.

On July 27, Julie Weeks, vice president for membership and communications for Girl Scouts of Orange County, wrote in an email, “Today is the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary event at the Orange County Fair with over 30,000 Girl Scouts and alumnae. It is a day of celebration and something our entire organization has been preparing for all year. It was important to Karen’s family to be here today with their Girl Scout family.”

Later, Weeks released a statement on behalf of Girl Scouts of Orange County: “We are shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of a member of our Girl Scout family, Karen Gose, last Tuesday. We are cooperating fully with the Riverside County Sherriff’s Department during their review of the accident. On behalf of our entire Girl Scout family, we extend our heartfelt thoughts to Karen’s family and friends.”

Gose had been part of a Camp Scherman summer camping course called “Go Climb a Rock,” designed for Girl Scouts in 6th through 9th grades. According to the course syllabus, campers learn basic rock climbing on the camp’s natural rock walls then in the mountains on a group climb. It was during a field outing on Suicide Rock in Idyllwild on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 24, that Gose fell.

According to the American Alpine Club compendium on U.S. climbing accidents, there is a yearly average of 25 fatalities.