33-Year-Old Hiker Dies After Accidentally Falling 40 Feet in Arizona: 'There Was No One Like' Him

Joel Brotherton was hiking Hole in the Rock Trail on Feb. 6 when he accidentally fell from the mountainside

Joel Brotherton
Photo: Joel Brotherton/instagram

A "passionate and creative" musician has been identified as the hiker who died after he fell about 40 feet from a trail in Arizona over the weekend.

Joel Brotherton was gravely injured on Feb. 6 when he fell while hiking Hole in the Rock Trail at Papago Park in Arizona, according to FOX affiliate KSAZ. The 33-year-old was an avid musician and outdoorsman, his mother, Karen Rose, told the station.

"He played guitar, sang, loved the outdoors and had a large family who loved him very much," she said of her son. "He was intelligent, passionate and creative. And very funny."

Hole in the Rock Trail is a heavily trafficked path in Phoenix that offers "scenic views and is good for all skill levels," the outdoor reviews website, AllTrails, says.

Rish Saini, Brotherton's friend, told KSAZ that Brotherton was guiding other hikers up the mountainside just before the accident Saturday evening.

"Last I saw of Joel, he was on top of the rock and he was enjoying himself even looked back at one point, posed for a couple pictures and he was helping two other hikers on how to get up the top of the mountain," Saini recalled to the outlet.

Then — for reasons that aren't yet clear — Brotherton fell 30 to 40 feet down the side of the trail.

"[We were] just shouting out Joel's name, letting him know that we were there that we were with him and help's on the way," Saini recalled.

At least one witness told KNXV that Brotherton was trying to climb up the east side of a rock formation when he slipped.

Emergency personnel responded to the scene and transported Brotherton to a trauma hospital, where he was listed in extremely critical condition.

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"Lot of these mountains are steep. So, we have a term we like to call trailblazing and that means not getting off the path," Todd Keller, a Phoenix Fire Department captain, told NBC affiliate KPNX. "Those trails are there for a reason. You get off the paths, there are loose rocks and loose dirt and that's where fall injuries happen."

Brotherton showcased his musical talents with a handful of videos on his YouTube page. They included original songs Brotherton sang while strumming his guitar.

"[He] just had this outburst of expression that most people don't have," Saini told KSAZ of his friend. "There was no one like Joel."

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