Trail Crew Member Falls From Helicopter In Sequoia Pot Field


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Ice climber
canyon country,CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 13, 2013 - 10:57pm PT
.SACRAMENTO, Calif. A California outdoorsman who led crews of volunteers through the Sierra Nevada mountains repairing trails and cleaning up marijuana grow sites has died after falling 50 feet from a helicopter, authorities said.

Shane Krogen was to be lowered in a harness to a remote cleanup site in Sequoia National Forest when he fell Thursday morning, said Lt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Everyone else had used it too," Foy said about the harness. Foy was at the scene but did not see the fall.

The helicopter was flown by the California National Guard 129th Air Rescue Wing.

Krogen, 57, of Fresno was the founder and executive director of the High Sierra Trail Crew, a group that has worked with the fish and wildlife agency since 2008 and U.S. Forest Service since 1995 to remove trash and contaminants from illegal and remote marijuana gardens.

Krogen and some of his crew were among a handful of volunteers trained to be airlifted and lowered into difficult terrain.

"They were trained by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the military," Foy said. "We just don't know what happened yet."

Fair weather and remote terrain have lured scores of people to establish illegal marijuana grow sites across the Sierra Nevada wilderness in recent years. They dam streams and spray pesticides and rodenticides, many that are banned in the U.S. They also leave behind tons of trash from campsites that are occupied during the five-month growing season.

"Shane was passionate about the environment," said his friend and fellow trail crew volunteer Warren Sargent. "He had a vision. He knew we had to get the chemicals out of those sites before they got into the water and caused even bigger problems."

Foy and about 15 other law enforcement agents had hiked to the grow site early Thursday. At about 10 a.m., Krogen and four other cleanup volunteers were to be transported by helicopter to a spot about 100 feet away.

"We could hear on the radio that the helicopter was coming in and lowering the crew members," Foy said. "Then a call went out that somebody had been injured."

Foy's team included at least three emergency medical technicians who were at Krogan's side within two minutes despite heavy brush and steep terrain. Krogen was alive, but his breathing was shallow.

The helicopter crew lowered a stretcher and hauled Krogen back up, then notified the trauma hospital in Visalia they were on the way.

"We all hiked out. Shane was breathing when we saw him. We all thought he was going to make it," Foy said.

His death caused an outpouring of grief among his friends, and tributes from those who worked alongside him.

"Shane's dedication to California's natural resources was extraordinary," fish and wildlife assistant chief John Baker said in a statement. "He and his crew have worked tirelessly for several years to maintain access to the high Sierra for all Californians."

In 2012 Krogen received the U.S. Forest Service's Regional Forester's Volunteer of the Year Award, and in 2011 he won the Chief's Award.

"He not only engaged in the reclamation of hundreds of marijuana sites, but also cleared trails after fires," the U.S. Forest Service said in a written statement. "His commitment and passion were evident in all the work he touched."

In July Krogen was quoted in an Associated Press story about the volunteers who help the U.S. Forest Service maintain trails during tight budget times.

"Most of us sit at a desk all week and at the end of the week have no tangible outcome for our effort," he said. "Whether they are cutting out a tree or building rock steps, they have a sense of pride and ownership."


Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Sep 13, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
Gotta love the war on marijuana. How many more should die or be imprisoned over this relatively innocuous recreational/medicinal drug ?

However my truly sincere condolences to all those who knew the fallen.
Jeremy B.

Northern California
Sep 13, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Based on the article, the helicopter wasn't carrying the crew 100'; it was dropping them 100' from the team that had hiked in.

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Sep 14, 2013 - 02:25am PT

..Sad news.....)-;
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Sep 14, 2013 - 03:05am PT
I am a crew leader with the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, and was a friend of Shane's, who I spoke with weekly for years.

As the article mentioned, he was a tireless organizer for volunteer work on the public lands.

I saw him only two weeks ago at his office, on my way back from a big project at Courtright.

His group was responsible this year for over 16 weeks of work on Sierra trails, in addition to the restoration work on MJ growth sites, particularly removal of toxic chemicals. He also championed frequent trips into the Sierra for disadvantaged youth.


Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Sep 14, 2013 - 03:33am PT
My sincere condolences to all family and friends.

Gotta love the war on marijuana. How many more should die or be imprisoned over this relatively innocuous recreational/medicinal drug ?

His war wasn't on marijuana. It was on the trash and insecticides they left behind polluting and trashing public lands.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Sep 14, 2013 - 09:57am PT
I can understand that. But in the end it comes down to a needless death due to the war on drugs. Otherwise those ops would just be farmers growing out in the open safely on proper farmland.

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Sep 14, 2013 - 10:08am PT
I can understand that. But in the end it comes down to a needless death due to the war on drugs. Otherwise those ops would just be farmers growing out in the open safely on proper farmland.

But let's not forget that, given the current law, if you're buying pot you're supporting these illegal pot farms and all the environmental problems that they bring.

Trad climber
Sep 14, 2013 - 10:17am PT
Unless you are getting it from mexico. Then you are supporting the Zetas.

Or from BC. Then you are supporting one of the 30,000 homeowners who just had their government permits approved for higher-capacity electrical service.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Sep 14, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
Same in Colorado.

To say this man was not a victim of the WoD is disingenuous.

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Sep 14, 2013 - 04:18pm PT
Uh, grow your own (outside the national forests). However, is using marijuana really all that much fun? Medicinal?

Condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Krogen, who was doing the right thing, whilst so many others are not.



Sport climber
Sonora Ca
Jan 22, 2014 - 11:54am PT
usaf now says his "D ring snapped"

Social climber
Colorado Plateau
Jan 22, 2014 - 12:06pm PT

Jan 22, 2014 - 12:09pm PT

Posted 1/16/2014 Updated 1/16/2014

Release Number: 011614

1/16/2014 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- A civilian volunteer who fell to his death was not properly secured to his harness while he was being lowered from an HH-60G operated by the California Air National Guard. The accident occurred approximately 30 miles east of Visalia, California, Sept. 12, 2013, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.

Shane Krogen, the founder and executive director of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, was being lowered by members of the 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The helicopter, working as part of California Joint Task Force Domestic Support counterdrug operations, was participating in the environmental clean-up and restoration of a contaminated marijuana grow site in the Sequoia National Forest.

At the time of the mishap, the HH-60G was piloted by the copilot, and the hoist was being operated from the right side of the aircraft by an aircrew member from the Special Missions Aviation career field. The board president found, by clear and convincing evidence, the cause of the mishap was that Mr. Krogen mistakenly attached the aircraft's hoist to his self-procured, non-load-bearing, plastic D ring instead of to the metal load-bearing, metal D ring. When the plastic D ring broke, Mr. Krogen fell from the aircraft to the ground from an approximate forty-foot hover and sustained fatal injuries.

The board president found, by the preponderance of evidence, that one of the helicopter crewmembers did not maintain adequate oversight during flight and hoist operations and that Mr. Krogen's use of his personal equipment excessively cluttered the area around the load-bearing, metal D-ring, interfering with safe connection and visual inspection.

Additionally, personnel from the 129th RQW, JTFDS and the California National Guard did not follow established procedures for determining Mr. Krogen's status and gaining approval for his participation in the hoist operation. It is the board president's determination that these three factors substantially contributed to the mishap.

For more information, contact Air Combat Command Public Affairs at (757) 764-5007 or via e-mail

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Jan 22, 2014 - 12:13pm PT
Grim, tragic, and utterly preventable. Condolences.

Jan 22, 2014 - 12:17pm PT
Plastic D ring.

Trad climber
Jan 22, 2014 - 12:24pm PT

Gotta love the war on marijuana. How many more should die or be imprisoned over this relatively innocuous recreational/medicinal drug?

I appreciate your sentiment. However, there are places in this country that will never legalize cannabis. So the cartels will use the CA backcountry to grow it and sell it to those states. Going after illegal grows is important, if for no other reason than to protect the backcountry and hikers. And guys like the one that tragically died will tell you how much devastation the cartels leave behind.

Maybe you could make the argument that the 'war on drugs' killed him but it's a little disingenuous considering he was part of a clean-up effort and not really involved in any 'war'. You can blame CAMP, the DEA, Mexicans, whoever or you could blame the people who buy and smoke cartel weed. In the end, he really died because he was trying to restore National Forest and had a horrible accident. RIP.

Edit: clipped the wrong D ring? Damn that's so messed up. Check each other's rigging FFS.

Boulder climber
Jan 22, 2014 - 12:29pm PT
No, in the end he died because he clipped into the wrong carabiner, his mistake got him killed.

Trad climber
SeKi, California
Jan 22, 2014 - 12:54pm PT
The cleanup is usually huge for these illegal gardens! They trash the place and leave behind pesticides and lots of trash. Still, I don't think the cleanup crews should be flown in. Its not an emergency and doesn't need immediate action. As far as the plastic biner, well, I only put the things on my harness I'm going to use....Sad that it ended this way for everyone in this case!!

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Jan 22, 2014 - 01:09pm PT
This War on Drugs ... is so stupid and a waste of $$$$$$

and this is a tragic accident, having anything on your harness that is not "full strength" is to be asking for it. Read climbing 101...

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