PRUNER, Thomas

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PRUNER, Thomas Lee (1960-2009) died of apparent heat stroke on October 16, 2009 while hiking from Prisoners' Harbor, Santa Cruz Island to Scorpion Ranch, on the island's east end.



In the News~

October 21, 2009 [CINP]: “Hiker Dies in Apparent Heat-Related Incident on Santa Cruz Island. On Friday, October 16, 2009, a 49-year-old man died of what appears to have been a case of heat stroke following a prolonged hike in unseasonably hot weather on Santa Cruz Island within Channel Islands National Park. Thomas Pruner, of Lake Forest, California, took a 14-mile hike from Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island along with a group of male friends. The group of four hikers started their trek at approximately 11:00 a.m. in record high temperatures reaching up to 94 degrees, terrain with little shade, and virtually no wind. Per his hiking partners, Pruner exhibited signs of fatigue early in the hike and experienced increasing difficulty throughout the day. He was assisted the last couple of miles to their destination in Scorpion Valley campground arriving at about 5:00 p.m. Upon arrival he began seizing and shortly thereafter became unconscious and unresponsive. Immediate care was provided by an off-duty U.S. Navy fire captain from San Diego, a kayak guide with Santa Barbara Adventure Company, and National Park Service staff. The responders attempted to resuscitate Pruner using an AED and CPR for about an hour. They were relieved by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department paramedics who continued efforts for nearly another 30 minutes. Pruner was declared deceased at 7:27 p.m. and transported to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office. Prior to their hike, rangers provided Pruner and his group a general safety orientation that included information about staying hydrated while hiking on the island. They were advised to carry more water given the extended length of their hike and the hot conditions. They were each carrying approximately two liters of water at the start of their hike.”


October 21, 2009 [OCR]: “A Lake Forest man died after a 14-mile hike in the sun on Santa Cruz Island Friday. Thomas Pruner, 49, died – apparently from heat stroke, authorities said, although the cause of death has not yet been determined – after completing an all-day hike with three friends in temperatures that reached 94 degrees. Pruner, a director at Pacific Life Insurance Company until he lost his job in February, was with a group of friends that regularly took well-planned outdoors trips, said his ex-wife, Jennifer Pruner. “They originally had intended to go kayaking,” Pruner said. “For some reason, that fell through. That day, it just got really tremendously hot. Tom was having some problems.” Pruner didn’t know of any major health problems, she said, at least “nothing that should have affected him like that.” Local news outlets reported that Channel Islands park rangers told Pruner’s party three times that they didn’t have enough water for the hike, which covers steep terrain and offers little shade. Each hiker reportedly had about two liters of water, half as much as they needed. The group hiked from Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion’s Campground at the eastern end of the island, after their kayaking plans were cancelled. They left around 11 a.m. and arrived around 5 p.m. Pruner showed signs of fatigue early in the hike, and needed help walking by the time they reached a mountain range halfway through, officials said. Pruner lost consciousness shortly after arrival. A Santa Barbara Adventure Co. kayak guide, an off-duty Navy fire captain from San Diego and park rangers tried for an hour to resuscitate him using a defibrillator and CPR, a park official said. Paramedics continued the effort for another half-hour. Pruner had two sons, Geoffrey, 19, and Nicholas, 15, his ex-wife said. Nicholas lived with him half the time, and the news was a blow to the family, she said. It came one day after she lost her job at Verizon Wireless. Today would have been the couple’s 24th anniversary, although they split six years ago. Pruner was an avid hiker and canoe enthusiast, she said. He was very involved with the Imua Outrigger Canoe Club in Newport Beach, which kept him in touch with his Hawaiian roots. Born in South Korea in 1960 to a father in the Army Special Forces and a South Korean mother, he moved to Hawaii when he was 7 years old. “Any kind of island he loved,” Jennifer Pruner said. He took annual trips to Hawaii, the most recent one a few months ago to scatter his mother’s ashes, she said. Now, the family plans to lay his remains to rest the same way. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.”


October 23, 2009 [National Parks Traveller]: “A hiker who died at Channel Islands National Park from a presumed case of heat stroke sadly demonstrates not only the need to be prepared when you head out into a park, but also the wisdom of heeding advice from rangers. Thomas Pruner, 49, of Lake Forest, California, died last Friday after a 14-mile hike in 90+-degree weather from Prisoners Harbor to the Scorpion Campground on Santa Cruz Island, according to a park release. Mr. Pruner and three friends set out about 11 a.m. on a day with little wind and when temperatures reached a record 94 degrees. Their route took them across terrain that offered little shade, according to the release. According to information his friends provided rangers, Mr. Pruner "exhibited signs of fatigue early in the hike and experienced increasing difficulty throughout the day. He was assisted the last couple of miles to their destination in Scorpion Valley campground, arriving at about 5:00 p.m. Upon arrival he began seizing and shortly thereafter became unconscious and unresponsive." Care was immediately provided to the man by an off-duty U.S. Navy fire captain from San Diego, a kayak guide with Santa Barbara Adventure Company, and National Park Service staff, the park noted. They worked to resuscitate Mr. Pruner for about an hour, using both CPR and an automated external defibrillator. When paramedics from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department arrived they continued resuscitation efforts for about another half-hour. Mr. Pruner was declared dead at 7:27 p.m. and transported to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office, the park noted. Before the four hikers left Prisoners Harbor they had received a "general safety orientation that included information about staying hydrated while hiking on the island," the park released noted. "They were advised to carry more water given the extended length of their hike and the hot conditions. They were each carrying approximately two liters of water at the start of their hike."