Man From California Falls 300 Feet to Death While Hiking North of Brookings

Natural Bridges, Oregon
Photo by Wayne Hsieh via Flickr CC2.

On a somber Sunday, a heartbreaking tragedy unfolded along the rugged southern coast of Oregon when a 69-year-old man, Richard Ehrhart from San Jose, California, tragically lost his life after falling more than 300 feet during a hike.

While hiking near Natural Bridge, Ehrhart and his wife became separated. Unbeknownst to his wife, Ehrhart suffered a fall. (Curry County Sheriff's Office)

Richard and his wife were exploring the picturesque trail near Natural Bridges, approximately twelve miles north of Brookings, when they became separated.

Unaware of her husband's perilous fall, Richard's wife returned alone to their vehicle. It was only when another hiker, traversing the same path later that afternoon, noticed a figure motionless on the jagged rocks below and promptly dialed 911 at around 2:35 p.m. that the grim discovery was made. Search and rescue teams faced the daunting task of rappelling down the steep cliff to retrieve Richard’s body, a solemn reminder of the unpredictable dangers these beautiful but treacherous paths hold.

The specific details of what caused Ehrhart's fall remain unclear. (Curry County Sheriff's Office)

The Curry County Sheriff’s Office, deeply moved by this incident, expressed their condolences to Richard's grieving family and friends, and reiterated a poignant reminder of the inherent risks associated with hiking along these scenic but potentially hazardous trails. The area, known for its craggy bluffs, secluded beaches, and dramatic offshore rock formations, is a segment of the majestic Oregon Coast Trail spanning 18 miles, beloved yet formidable.

This somber event underscores the critical importance of vigilance and preparedness when venturing into nature’s embrace. Oregon State Police continue their investigation into the precise circumstances of Richard's tragic fall, in coordination with the Curry County District Attorney.

Rescue teams descended approximately 300 feet down the rugged terrain to retrieve the victim's body from the rocks below. (Curry County Sheriff's Office)

In moments like these, our community feels the weight of loss, but also the pressing need to foster awareness about the vital importance of safety while hiking in such awe-inspiring settings. Our hearts go out to all who knew Richard, as we hold his memory close and remind others to tread carefully, honoring his story through our commitment to safety in the wilderness.