“Lake Forest man dies after hiking in hot weather across mountains of Santa Cruz Island.”
A Lake Forest man died after a 14-mile hike in the sun on Santa Cruz Island Friday.
Thomas Pruner, 49, died apparently from heat stroke, authorities said, although the cause of death has not yet been determined after completing an all-day hike with three friends in temperatures that reached 94 degrees.
Pruner, a director at Pacific Life Insurance Company until he lost his job in February, was with a group of friends that regularly took well-planned outdoors trips, said his ex-wife, Jennifer Pruner. “They originally had intended to go kayaking,” Pruner said. “For some reason, that fell through. That day, it just got really tremendously hot. Tom was having some problems.”
Pruner didn’t know of any major health problems, she said, at least “nothing that should have affected him like that.”
Local news outlets reported that Channel Islands park rangers told Pruner’s party three times that they didn’t have enough water for the hike, which covers steep terrain and offers little shade.
Each hiker reportedly had about two liters of water, half as much as they needed.
The group hiked from Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion’s Campground at the eastern end of the island, after their kayaking plans were cancelled. They left around 11 a.m. and arrived around 5 p.m. Pruner showed signs of fatigue early in the hike, and needed help walking by the time they reached a mountain range halfway through, officials said. Pruner lost consciousness shortly after arrival. A Santa Barbara Adventure Co. kayak guide, an off-duty Navy fire captain from San Diego and park rangers tried for an hour to resuscitate him using a defibrillator and CPR, a park official said. Paramedics continued the effort for another half-hour.
Pruner had two sons, Geoffrey, 19, and Nicholas, 15, his ex-wife said. Nicholas lived with him half the time, and the news was a blow to the family, she said. It came one day after she lost her job at Verizon Wireless.
Today would have been the couple’s 24th anniversary, although they split six years ago.
Pruner was an avid hiker and canoe enthusiast, she said. He was very involved with the Imua Outrigger Canoe Club in Newport Beach, which kept him in touch with his Hawaiian roots.
Born in South Korea in 1960 to a father in the Army Special Forces and a South Korean mother, he moved to Hawaii when he was 7 years old.
“Any kind of island he loved,” Jennifer Pruner said.
He took annual trips to Hawaii, the most recent one a few months ago to scatter his mother’s ashes, she said. Now, the family plans to lay his remains to rest the same way.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort
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