A hero’s final journey: Sheriff’s Office warning after rescue volunteer dies while hiking in Fresno County


FRESNO COUNTY, California (KGPE) – A rescue volunteer from Reno, Nevada is one of two people who lost their lives while hiking in Fresno County this month. The Sheriff’s Office has also responded to help at least three others – and brought them back to safety.

“No matter how much experience you may have the mountains can still be dangerous,” said Lt. Kathy Curtice.

The Fresno County Search and Rescue Team recovered the body of 52-year-old Paul Sheykhzadeh Monday. They say he fell to his death hiking near the peak of Mount Humphreys.

Sheykhzadeh was a doctor in Reno and a volunteer for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team.

“Once we became aware of the possibility it might be a search and rescue crew member that we were recovering, even though he was from a different team we still treated him as one of our own,” said Lt. Curtice.

Lt. Curtice says with more people hitting the trails, they are receiving more calls for help. 

“The best things people can do is have a good detailed itinerary, and make sure someone at home who isn’t going to the trip knows what that itinerary is,” said Lt. Curtice. 

If you get lost, the advice is to stay where you are and try to leave clues for a rescue team, such as drawing your name with an arrow in the dirt. 

“Any kind of message, indicator is helpful.”

The California Highway Patrol also responds to rescues, especially those that require medical aid. They have a helicopter with paramedics on board and the ability to do minor procedures while en route to a hospital.

“People die from lack of care up in the mountains and we are able to get to them quickly even in the most remote areas and get that help to them that they need,” said CHP Flight Officer Paramedic Mike Crain.

In honor of Sheykhzadeh’s service as a search and rescue volunteer, the Fresno County team draped an American flag over his body where he was found. 

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office also released the following statement: 

On Sunday, August 2nd, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Hasty Team lost one of our team members in a tragic accident. Dr. Paul Sheykhzadeh, 52, was vacationing and climbing Mt. Humphreys, near Bishop, CA, when he was killed after a fall.

Paul was an avid and experienced climber, backcountry skier, and outdoor recreationalist and had been a member of the Hasty Team for over 10 years. During his time on the team, Paul was one our most active members, responding to hundreds of calls, and he was fully qualified in a number of rescue disciplines. He was a member of the Backcountry Rescue team, the Backcountry Ski team, the Technical Rope Rescue team, the Medical team, and the Helicopter Hoist Rescue team.

Outside of search and rescue, Paul was a well known and highly respected physician, specializing in gastroenterology. He is survived by his fiancé Mary, and his parents.

Paul spent his life helping others, both as a physician and as a member of search and rescue, and he embodied the search and rescue motto, “That Others May Live.”

He will be greatly missed.

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