Just days before an Illinois man was set to begin his career as a nurse, a fall at the Grand Canyon led to his death.
On Wednesday, July 3, rangers responded to reports that a visitor had climbed over a railing at Mather Point, then lost footing and fell approximately 500 feet, according to a press release from the National Park Service. The park service confirmed the fall was fatal, and said an investigation is underway.
The victim was identified this week as 24-year-old Andrey Privin, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The National Parks Traveler organization reported that other park visitors claimed they saw Privin “toss his backpack to his intended landing spot, but did not realize that he was going to try to jump the gap” at Mather Point.
“I understand that people are hypothesizing about what happened,” park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski told the National Parks Traveler via email. “While the incident remains under investigation, I can share that it is most likely he removed his backpack for better dexterity.”
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A spokesperson for NorthShore University HealthSystem tells PEOPLE that Privin was set to begin a job Monday, July 9, as a registered nurse at Highland Park Hospital, where he had been working as a patient care technician.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of our dear colleague and friend Andrey Privin. He was well-loved by his patients and coworkers, and enjoyed a reputation of always going above and beyond to make a significant impact on people’s lives,” NorthShore University HealthSystem said in a statement. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family during this difficult time.”
Martha Sussman, a registered nurse at the hospital, told the Daily Herald that Privin’s death was a “huge loss.”
“He was very good with his patients, very dedicated. A very intelligent young man,” she said. “We were very lucky that he had decided to stay on with us after he graduated” from Loyola University in Chicago.
Sussman added, “This was a shock on many levels for us. He would have been a wonderful nurse. He was a wonderful friend. He was a good person, and it’s a huge loss.”
A GoFundMe account created to help Privin’s parents with funeral expenses surpassed its $12,000 goal.
Shedlowski told My Grand Canyon Park last year that of the approximately 12 deaths at the sightseeing destination each year, on average, two to three of those deaths are from falls over the rim. Natural causes, medical issues, suicide, heat, drowning and traffic accidents typically account for the other deaths.