California man dies while hiking with son near Maroon Bells |

California man dies while hiking with son near Maroon Bells

Jason Auslander / The Aspen Times
The Maroon Bells near Aspen on Sept. 20, 2017

A 55-year-old California man hiking Saturday with his son near the Maroon Bells died of an apparent heart attack, sources said Monday.

Jason Gong of San Jose was 1.4 miles up the Crater Lake trail and told his son he was not feeling well Saturday morning, according to Alex Burchetta, director of operations at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, and Eric Hansen, a Pitkin County deputy coroner.

The father and son became separated soon after that, and the next time the son saw Gong he was being given CPR by at least one nurse and a doctor, Burchetta and Hansen said. The medical professionals, which also may have included another nurse and doctor, performed CPR for a long time before one of the doctors pronounced Gong dead, officials said.

Emergency dispatchers received a call about the incident at 11:21 a.m. Saturday, Burchetta said. First-responders included volunteers with Mountain Rescue Aspen, Flight For Life and two U.S. Forest Service employees who ran up the trail with an automated external defibrillator, Burchetta said.

The Flight For Life helicopter transported Gong’s body from the trail to the Aspen airport, where a coroner took Gong to Aspen Valley Hospital, Burchetta said.

An autopsy was performed Monday, though the coroner’s office is waiting for a toxicology report before releasing the cause and manner of Gong’s death, Hansen said.

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