Man who fell 400 feet at Grand Canyon identified as Santa Rosa resident

The man who fell to his death earlier this month at the Grand Canyon was identified Friday by national park officials as a Santa Rosa resident.

Michael Obritsch, 67, was visiting the park on April 3 when he fell over the canyon rim east of Yavapai Geology Museum in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, authorities said. His body was recovered from 400 feet below the rim.

John Quinley, a park spokesman, said Obritsch’s death was the third in eight days at the Grand Canyon, but he was the first “over the edge” fatality in the park this year. Investigators have concluded his death was accidental, Quinley said. A park visitor reported seeing Obritsch falling but there were apparently no witnesses or indications of what caused the plunge.

The first of the string of recent deaths occurred on March 26 near the South Rim and remains under investigation, Quinley said. In the other fatality, a tourist accidentally fell near the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-floor observation deck outside the park on the canyon’s west side.

Park officials advise visitors “to have a safe visit by staying on designated trails and walkways, always keeping a safe distance from the edge of the rim and staying behind railings and fences at overlooks.”

An obituary placed on the website said Obritsch was a retired computer analyst for Pacific Bell in San Ramon who grew up in Santa Rosa but later moved back. After his retirement, he worked part-time for a pool service. He was a graduate of Piner High School in Santa Rosa, and had a degree in mathematics from UC Davis.

“His warm, friendly personality, intelligence, dedication, kindness, and his sense of fun will be greatly missed,” the obituary said.

He is survived by a sister, Nicolette Hinch. A memorial service is planned later this month, according to the obituary, and memorial donations can be made to the Sonoma County Humane Society.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @ctuan

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