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Air France pilot found dead on Mt. Whitney after apparent hiking accident

Reported missing after failing to show up for work

Authorities conducted a helicopter search for missing Air France pilot Tom Gerbier along the hiking trail leading to Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 United States. Gerbier's body was found and identified on Friday. Photo courtesy of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Authorities conducted a helicopter search for missing Air France pilot Tom Gerbier along the hiking trail leading to Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 United States. Gerbier's body was found and identified on Friday. Photo courtesy of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The body of an Air France pilot has been found on Mt. Whitney in California after he was apparently involved in a hiking accident, National Park Service officials say.

Tom Gerbier was reported missing in Paris when he failed to show up for work following a day-trip to the United States. He vanished on Tuesday during a hike on the trail leading up to the summit of the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

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Officials with the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks confirmed Friday that the remains of Gerbier, of Fontenay-sous-Bois, France, were discovered near the trail.

Shortly after he was reported missing, the Inyo County Sheriff's Office investigated, sending a helicopter to the region around Mt. Whitney, but didn't see any signs of Gerbier from the air.

On Thursday, deputies launched a ground search, where they found evidence that someone had fallen off a cliff along the "Mountaineering Route."

Later, a helicopter crew circling above spotted the man's motionless body at the bottom of a steep embankment.

Gerbier's remains were airlifted from the scene and transported to the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, which confirmed his identity.

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Investigators estimated that Gerbier fell about 1,000 feet to his death in the second such incident at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this year after another climber fell fatally in June.

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