Menu Close

A federal workplace safety investigation found that a 34-year-old worker’s fatal fall might have been prevented had the operator of a Pauma Valley zip-line attraction implemented required safety measures.

ABC 10 News of San Diego reported that Joaquin Romero, 34, of Banning, Calif., died of multiple blunt force trauma injuries after he fell from a receiving platform of a zip line while trying to help a rider. The incident occurred at the Zip Zoom Zipline located on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, according to the La Jolla Band Of Luiseno Indians.

According to Fox 5, a witness said Romero was helping a woman get hooked on the platform when she started sliding out on the line. He couldn’t stop her and grabbed onto her harness, which caused them both to slide out about a hundred feet above the ground, according to the witness.

The friend said Romero feared the woman could fall because of the weight, so he made a heroic decision to let go. According to the witness, the woman was not injured.

Cal Fire crews hoisted Romero up in a rescue basket, and he was airlifted to Sharp Memorial Hospital. The county medical examiner said Romero arrived without a pulse. After admission to the hospital, a poor prognosis was given by medical staff and Romero’s family decided to place him on comfort care measures until he was pronounced dead, the ME added.

The zip line course had billed itself as the longest of its kind in Southern California, with lines running across canyons, valleys, treetops and the San Luis Rey River. The three zipline courses at the attraction range from 300 to 2,700 feet in length and reach speeds up to 55 miles per hour. It opened in 2015.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation inspectors found La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines failed to install a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system. The company also did not train employees on fall hazards and how to recognize them, as required. Additionally, OSHA determined that the company failed to assess the workplace to determine the presence of hazards and did not report a work-related hospitalization within 24 hours.

OSHA cited the company for four serious safety violations and proposed $24,861 in penalties. La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines is also accused of failing to train employees about fall hazards and failing to assess the workplace for hazards.

OSHA Area Director Derek Engard said,”La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines failed to meet their obligation to protect their employees,” OSHA Area Director Derek Engard in San Diego. “If they had simply provided the proper protective equipment, this senseless tragedy could have been prevented.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.