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The 50-foot fall that killed a zip line worker as he tried to steady a rider in Pauma Valley last October could have been prevented, a federal workplace safety investigation found.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week cited the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, which runs the La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines on tribal lands near state Route 76. The regulators accused the tribe of five violations, including failing to install a guardrail, safety net or other system to prevent falls.

“If they had simply provided the proper protective equipment, this senseless tragedy could have been prevented,” federal OSHA San Diego Area Director Derek Engard said in a news release Thursday.

La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines is also accused of failing to train employees about fall hazards and failing to assess the workplace for hazards.

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The agency, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, wants La Jolla Zip Zoom Ziplines to pay nearly $25,000 in fines for the alleged violations, four of which it has deemed as “serious.”

The fatal fall happened Oct. 30 after worker Joaquin Romero, 34, grabbed a rider’s zip line harness to steady the rider while landing on the tower platform, according to a news release the federal agency issued Thursday.

Romero and the rider were both pulled off the zip line tower. Romero let go of the harness and fell about 50 feet to the valley floor, the news release states.

Cal Fire crews hoisted Romero up in a rescue basket, and he was airlifted to a hospital, local authorities said last year. Romero, a resident of Banning in Riverside County, died two days later.

The zip line course had billed itself as the longest of its kind in Southern California, with lines running across canyons, valleys, treetops and the San Luis Rey River. It opened in 2015.

As of Thursday, the La Jolla Zoom Zip Line website indicates the attraction is “currently closed as we are conducting a thorough investigation.”

“The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority,” the message states. “We are looking forward to reopening when the investigation has been completed and evaluated.”

A person who answered the phones at the tribal offices Thursday said no one was commenting on the matter.

The zip line operators have 15 days to respond to OSHA, including contesting the findings.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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