NPS: 7 Deaths During Shutdown 'Not Unusual' (1/9/2019)

Story by Woodall's Campground Management

In the 16 days since the government shutdown began and more than 21,000National Park Serviceemployees were furloughed, seven visitors to national parks have died, according to ABC 10.

Three of those deaths were accidental, including that of a 14-year-old girl who fell off Arizona's Horseshoe Bend on December 24. Four other deaths are believed to be suicides, according to Mike Litterst, the National Park Service acting chief spokesperson and chief of public affairs.

But though tragic on their own, the tally of deaths is not out of the ordinary for the expansive National Park Service, which sees an average of six deaths per week, Litterst said. The deaths include accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes, as well as medical incidents such as heart attacks, he said.

Overall, that's a miniscule fraction of the more than 330 million people who visited the 418 sites in the National Park System in 2017, according toNational Park Servicedata.

The National Park Service, which usually employs 24,681 people, furloughed all but 3,298 of them when the shutdown began on December 22. Many parks remained open for the shutdown, but there were no visitor services, restrooms, trash collection, facilities or road maintenance, the National Park Service said.

Still, there's no evidence that the deaths these past couple of weeks are related to the shutdown.

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