Man dies on Western States Trail near Auburn

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A sunny afternoon trek Friday on the Western States Trail just outside Auburn turned into a grim – and ultimately unsuccessful – battle to save a man’s life after he suffered an apparent heart attack. Emergency personnel followed the 55-year-old man’s hiking companion down to the half-mile signpost on the trail, below the Auburn staging area off Pacific Avenue. But efforts over 40 minutes that included chest compression and intubation failed to revive the man. A California Highway Patrol helicopter at first circled above and then landed at the staging area to take the man away to hospital if he survived. But final attempts ended just before 2 p.m. and the man was pronounced dead. Auburn Fire Capt. John Bailey said that the name of the man would be released through the Placer County Coroner’s Office. The man’s female companion on the trail had gone to seek help after he complained of chest pains during the steep ascent up the canyon to Auburn. Placer County Water Agency employees Joe Reilly and Justin Rawlins were at the staging area, doing maintenance work on the Boardman Canal, when the woman emerged asking for help. Reilly ran down with the woman, who immediately started performing chest compression on the man. The two said she had told them that he had a heart stent. Rawlins stayed at the staging area and called for emergency personnel. Auburn Fire, Cal Fire and American Medical Response responded, as well as the Highway Patrol helicopter. The man and the woman had traveled on foot into the canyon and were on the last half mile of a 5-mile trek when the man was unable to continue, the two PCWA workers said. The incident was the second in three days that Water Agency workers had aided in an emergency incident. On Wednesday, agency employees spotted the body of 51-year-old David Lee Miller of Auburn floating in the Wise Canal, near Highway 49, and assisted with recovery efforts. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at