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News & Views - Oct, 1996 Issue #42 

TRAGEDY AT
NORTH AMERICAN WILDERNESS
ACADEMY (NAWA)

by: Dave Hull
October 3, 1996 
French Gulch, California 
916-359-2215 

On September 21, 1996, Travis Hull, NAWA school administrator and master wilderness instructor fell to his death while teaching a beginning rescue class to the NAWA-USA Academy. The USA Academy, composed of teachers and students in grades 7th through 12th, were completing the rescue course in preparation for their five week trip to Alaska when the accident occurred. 

Travis had just completed a demonstration on the safety of a two point self protecting system and had yet to hook the ropes into the system. As he extricated himself from the system, he apparently lost contact with how close he was to the edge, stepped back, lost his balance and fell to his death. Travis was an expert climber and rescue instructor. He was a volunteer coordinator for the Shasta County Search and Rescue and had spent many hours training Sheriff departments, search and rescue groups, and fire departments in vertical and swift water rescue. His contributions to the NAWA program were enormous, and he will be deeply missed by all of us. As his father, I know he would want me to emphasize one thing. The equipment and the system were safe. The error was his alone as he failed to follow his own and the industries safety procedures by being too close to the edge without being hooked into the system. As instructors, we work hard to conduct safe situations for youth to risk and grow emotionally from that risk. We are oftentimes concerned more with our clientís safety than our own. Donít let your familiarity with your job and your acceptance of the risks momentarily blind you to the inherent dangers. They are always there for each of us. An accidental mis-step can have devastating consequences. 

Copyright © 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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