By Joseph Serna Los Angeles Times
The family of an avid mountain climber is grieving after the man fell hundreds of feet to his death in Yosemite National Park just hours after his girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal.
Brad Parker, 36, died when he fell from the face of Matthes Crest in Tuolumne Meadows, where he was climbing alone without ropes Saturday, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported.
Earlier that day, Parker and his fiance had climbed the summit of Cathedral Peak, where he proposed, the paper reported.
Parker had told his father the good news.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” his dad, Bill, recalled his son telling him, according to the Press Democrat.
Parker set off on his own to climb Matthes Crest. Witnesses reportedly saw Parker fall about 300 feet about 5:45 p.m. The incident happened so late in the evening, a recovery team had to stay with the body overnight before it could be flown out by helicopter, said Kari Cobb, a park spokeswoman.
Matthes Crest is popular among rock climbers and solo “free climbing” is not unheard of, she said.
Bill Parker told the Press Democrat he was left “stunned” by the sudden death.
“What happened is so unbelievable,” he said.
Parker had climbed the face of the park’s Half Dome mountain in near-record time and was featured on a 2012 cover of California Climber magazine.
Park officials told the paper an average of one or two hikers die every year in Yosemite.