Nurse Disappears After Going for a Hike in the Sierras

A frantic search ensued after Cassandra Bravo, a local nurse, went missing near the Mount Whitney Trail just outside the town of Lone Pine, California. Authorities did everything they could, but they weren’t able to find her in time to save her life. Her death has led to an outpouring of support and love from the local community. Find out what her life meant to all those she left behind.

Searching for a Loved One

The drama unfolded on Thursday, November 5th when Cassandra went for a hike after dropping her ten-year-old son off. When she didn’t come home that night, her family and friends began to worry. They quickly contacted the Inyo County sheriff’s office. The police located her car near the Mount Whitney trailhead the next day, so Bravo’s loved ones began searching the area. On the second day into the search, the Inyo County sheriff’s deputies and search-and-rescue personnel joined the effort.

The Mount Whitney Trail is one of the steepest climbs in the southern California area, with 8,400 feet of elevation on the Sierra Nevada’s east edge. After a thorough search, they finally located Bravo just as the snow began to fall, but she had fallen around 100 feet off a steep slope, landing at the bottom of the trail. They quickly made their way down to the injured hiker. When they found her, she was unconscious and very cold, wearing just a tank-top and leggings.

While spending two freezing nights in the wilderness, she managed to pull herself behind a fallen tree for warmth and protection.

The authorities soon had Bravo airlifted out of the ravine and transported her to Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster. According to friends and family, “She was mumbling at the time they airlifted her out. Everyone was shocked she had survived that amount of time outside in the cold in nothing but a tank top and leggings.”

However, Bravo eventually succumbed to her injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Honoring Her Life and Those She Left Behind

Cassandra Bravo, who was a single mother at the time of her death, leaves behind two children. Her friends and family set up a GoFundMe page in her honor to raise money for her children and any costs they might incur going forward. They have already raised over $63,000 of their $80,000 goal.

The campaign has also become an online tribute to this incredible healthcare provider who fought tirelessly for her patients.

As her friends wrote online, “Those of us that knew Cassandra knew she was a FIGHTER and STRONG. We know she fought to stay alive. We also know she was a single mom and busted her butt as an ED tech, graduated nursing school and has worked at Loma Linda University Medical Center as an RN in the Urgent Care and recently the ER. She was an amazing nurse.”

All the funds will be managed by Cassandra’s brother, James Hawley, as he works with his parents to care for her children.

The page ends with, “Cassandra would be overwhelmed by the love and support everyone has shown. She has so many loving friends and a great deal of support from her work family at the AUC and ED at Loma Linda. She would be in tears to know her kids will be taken care of. Thank you to everyone that has donated, shared, and prayed. Let’s keep sharing for those sweet kids! ❤️”

The Dangers of Hiking

We are saddened to hear that Cassandra Bravo never made it home from her hike. With winter coming and the coronavirus still on the rise, more people are expected to spend time in nature over the next few months. It’s a safe way to get out of the house in the era of COVID-19, but everyone should take precautions when exploring the wilderness.

Be safe this winter as you look for ways to stay active and get out of the house. Tell your friends and family where you’re going before you leave. Bring along an emergency radio in case your phone doesn’t have a signal and watch out for slick areas and elevated peaks that could lead to disaster.

According to the latest statistics, search and rescue teams responded to a total of 3,453 incidents in national parks in 2017, the last year for which this data is available, and around 3.5% resulted in fatalities. Airlifting an injured hiker can also cost thousands of dollars, and in many cases, patients must pay out of pocket. The cost of these operations exceeded $3 million in 2017.

As more visitors and hikers head to national parks this winter, remind your friends, family, and patients to stay safe. 

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