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Death Valley National Park visitor admits to toppling historic tower

A visitor to Death Valley National Park has come forward and taken responsibility for toppling a 113-year-old salt tram tower last month, saying it happened in a time of desperation and that there was no intention to harm the historic structure, park officials said. .

“We are grateful to the dozens of people who have contacted the park with information and for all the statements of support we have received from people who care about this place and its cultural resources,” said the acting superintendent. Elizabeth Ibañez in a written statement. “While we would certainly prefer that this damage did not occur, we are pleased that the person who committed these actions finally took responsibility for their actions and came forward. »

The confession comes three days after park officials asked the public for help regarding the damaged tower that was part of the Saline Valley Salt Tram, a 13-mile aerial tramway built in 1911. Officials said someone one had knocked him down between April 1 and 24. they attached a winch to the tower to get their vehicle out of the mud after leaving the main road.

“The individual responsible for stopping the salt tram called the tip line provided in a previous press release, stating that this was done during a time of desperation while he was stuck deep in the mud, and that his intention was not to harm the historic structure,” the statement said.

Park officials did not identify the person, but an 11-minute dash camera video reported by Outside Magazine may have shown those responsible for the tower’s destruction.

An edited version of the video was posted on the magazine’s website. This version of the video, which lasts about two minutes, begins with a man stopping next to a woman wearing a pink bikini top, denim shorts and a trucker cap. The woman tells the driver she needs a winch.

“We’ve gone a little too far into the mud and there’s nothing to put the winch on,” she was heard saying.

The video then shows a white truck with a camper van submerged in the mud, and at the edge of the screen is the tram tower, which already appears to be lying on its side. The video also shows the woman next to a man dressed in a flannel shirt and denim shorts after an attempt to remove the vehicle failed. Eventually a second line is needed to remove the truck, but the video ends before it can show the results of this attempt.

It’s unclear whether the couple or one of the people seen in the video caused the tower to fall, but the magazine included a photo of the man in the flannel shirt removing a winch from the fallen tower.

A spokesperson did not respond to questions from The Times about whether the person taking responsibility was in that video.

The National Park Service said a resource management team will assess damage to the Salt Tram Tower and develop restoration plans. He also asked the public to remain patient and not attempt to restore the tower themselves.

Officials say the incident is a reminder of why it is important to carry a satellite communications device when traveling in areas with limited cell phone service.

“As Death Valley’s famous summer temperatures continue to rise, park rangers encourage people to stay on paved roads during this time of year because help is more readily available.”

California Daily Newspapers

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