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Pinnacles Climber is Declared Brain-Dead, will be Organ Donor

By Larry Slonaker, Mercury News (Due the serious nature of this incident we are reprinting this SJ Mercury in its entirety. Our thanks to Larry Slonaker)

Note: William Ayers is the same climber reported injured in the previous article: Climbing Accident.

A 22-year-old Menlo Park man injured in a climbing accident at Pinnacles National Monument over the weekend was declared brain-dead late Wednesday and placed on life support to await organ-transplant recipients.

William Ayers, a computer technician at a Palo Alto law firm, was climbing with his brother at the popular rock-climbing area southeast of Hollister on Saturday afternoon. Nearing the top of his climb, he slipped and one of the anchors holding his rope gave way, said his brother, Mike Ayers, 21.

William Ayers fell about 25 feet, his brother said. An anchor at a lower point held the rope, but in the fall he apparently struck his head just below his helmet.

"He had no other injuries -- not even bruises," Mike Ayers said.

William Ayers drifted in and out of consciousness, but by the time rescuers were able to get him to an ambulance, he lost consciousness and did not regain it, his brother said.

The ambulance took William Ayers to a nearby rendezvous with a helicopter, and he was airlifted from the remote spot to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

It was the first climbing fatality at the Pinnacles in about 11 years. Pinnacles staff does not track the number of climbers, but the area draws about 200,000 visitors a year -- "many of them climbers," said chief ranger Jerry Case.

Mike Ayers characterized their climb, near the Moses Spring trail head, as fairly easy. He and his brother have been climbing about seven years, he said, several times at Pinnacles.

The brothers' mother, Nancy Ayers, said her sons did not get to climb together much anymore, "so that day was a special day for them."

Last year, Mike Ayers fell while climbing and broke both ankles, his elbow and wrist. He ended up in a hospital room next to the one where his brother lay Thursday afternoon.

"I don't know if I'll climb again," he said. "When I was on the rock doing first aid, I was saying, There's no way."

"Since then . . . I could see myself getting back into it. It's how I deal with stuff."

The Staff at Friends Of Pinnacles sends our heartfelt condolences to William's family and friends. If there is anything we can do, please contact us.

Climber's Note: The accident apparently occurred on the upper section of Thrill Hammer with the fall ending on the ledge where Pastie begins.


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