California man dies hiking near Maroon Bells on Crater Lake trail |

California man dies hiking near Maroon Bells on Crater Lake trail

The Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado on the morning of September 20, 2017.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

A 55-year-old California man hiking Saturday with his son near the Maroon Bells died of an apparent heart attack, sources said Monday.

Jason Gong of San Jose was 1.4 miles up the Crater Lake trail and told his son he was not feeling well Saturday morning, according to Alex Burchetta, director of operations at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, and Eric Hansen, a Pitkin County deputy coroner.

The father and son became separated soon after that, and the next time the son saw Gong he was being given CPR by at least one nurse and a doctor, Burchetta and Hansen said. The medical professionals, which may also have included another nurse and doctor, performed CPR for a long time before one of the doctors pronounced Gong dead, officials said.

Emergency dispatchers received a call about the incident at 11:21 a.m. Saturday, Burchetta said. First-responders included volunteers with Mountain Rescue Aspen, Flight for Life and two U.S. Forest Service employees who ran up the trail with an automated external defibrillator, Burchetta said.

The Flight for Life helicopter transported Gong’s body from the trail to the Aspen airport, where a coroner took the body to Aspen Valley Hospital, Burchetta said.

An autopsy was performed Monday, though the Coroner’s Office is waiting for a toxicology report before releasing the cause and manner of Gong’s death, Hansen said.

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