News Release

Fatality in Deimos Canyon

A helicopter is a small speck against blue sky over the dark brown canyon, as viewed from Badwater Road.
California Highway Patrol's H-82 helicopter approaching the accident site in Deimos Canyon.


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News Release Date: February 1, 2021

Contact: Carma Roper, Inyo County

Contact: Abby Wines (NPS)

DEATH VALLEY, CA –  A canyoneer died in an accident in Death Valley National Park on Saturday, January 30.

Justin Ibershoff (38) of Los Angeles, was descending a technical route down Deimos Canyon with six friends. The group was very experienced, and most members of the party had descended this canyon several times before. The incident occurred while Mr. Ibershoff was descending a steep, rocky slope to the top of the third rappel anchor. He apparently stepped on a rock that moved, triggering a rockslide that swept him past two companions and over the edge of the 95-foot-tall dry fall.

The group used an emergency locator beacon to call for assistance. The group’s ability to send more detailed information via texts through the emergency beacon aided rescuers. After assessing Mr. Ibershoff’s condition, the group continued down the canyon due to continuing active rock fall.

Inyo County search-and-rescue (SAR) and Death Valley park rangers were assisted by helicopters from California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Crew from the Navy’s VX-31 helicopter were able to reach Mr. Ibershoff a few hours after the accident and establish that he had passed away. At that point, the incident response transitioned into a body recovery.

Inyo County SAR team members and CHP’s H-82 helicopter from Apple Valley recovered Mr. Ibershoff’s body the next day.

Conditions in that area of the canyon remain unstable and canyoneers are advised to avoid the upper section of Deimos Canyon.

A helicopter is in the foreground in top right corner of photo. It is about 20 feet off the ground, which is gravel in foreground and salt in midground. Mountains are in background.
California Highway Patrol H-82 helicopter is shown returning to the staging area adjacent to Badwater Road after dropping off Inyo County SAR team members in Deimos Canyon.


Last updated: February 1, 2021

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