Man's death sparks push for change on Camback Mountain hiking trails

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PHOENIX -- A 25-year-old man was hiking Camelback last spring when he fell and died, and now his family is vowing to help protect other hikers from a similar fate.

It is not unusual for people who are very familiar with the trails look for additional challenges. Chelsey McHale is hoping her brother's story will at least cause some to think twice.

“My brother was an avid hiker of Camelback Mountain, he went there at least three times a week,” she said.

But May 4, 2011, would be Clint McHale's last hike.

“He decided to climb the mountain area in Echo Canyon without the proper safety equipment,” Chelsey said.

That’s where Clint slipped some 20 feet and fell another 30.

Initially knocked unconscious, Clint was alert when rescue crews arrived but died en route to the hospital.

Now his sister is on a mission to protect other hikers.

“I am in a way obsessed with this because I feel something good has to come out of this,” she said.

Chelsey is now working with the city of Phoenix to get safety signs posted on the mountain.

“We know we want to put it an area of curiosity where the most avid experienced hikers decide this looks like a good spot to go climbing and then we want them to see that sign,” she said.

After all, the Phoenix Fire Department responded to 191 mountain rescues in 2011. Three were fatal and almost all were preventable.

“If you have a sign that says please stay on the trail, don't veer off the trail then it's a reminder,” said Phoenix Fire Capt. Jorge Enriquez. “It’s important to know your limits, your abilities, wear proper clothes have plenty of water and know your trail.”

Chelsey is certain such signs would save lives.

“I just don't want another family going through what we're going through,” she said.

The McHale family hopes to have the sign in place by May 4, the one year anniversary of Clint's accident.

They would also like to have an annual hiking safety day and work with local resorts to educate tourists so they do not get caught off guard either.

They are holding a fundraiser on Friday, March 2, at Mellow Mushroom in Tempe.

Chelsey McHale for Clint McHale Memorial/Educational mountain sign

Clint McHale Memorial Facebook Page