A California man who volunteered with wildlife agencies to remove contaminants from marijuana gardens died Thursday morning, after he fell 50 feet from a helicopter.
Shane Krogen, 57, was supposed to be lowered into a remote site in the mountains "during a marijuana eradication" effort when he fell, according to the Modesto Bee.
Other members of Krogen’s team had also used the harness and made it safely to the sites.
Krogen was the founder of the High Sierra Trail Crew, which collaborates with the U.S. Forest Service to get rid of trash from some marijuana gardens.
Krogen was trained to use the harness and to be lowered from helicopters.
"They were trained by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the military," said Lt. Patrick Foy from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We just don't know what happened yet."
Numerous marijuana grow sites have sprouted up in the Sierra Nevada in past years, causing more pesticides and more trash to exist in the mountains.
Growers use the chemicals in their gardens and leave trash behind at their campsites.
"Shane was passionate about the environment," said Warren Sargent, Krogren’s friend and coworker. "He had a vision. He knew we had to get the chemicals out of those sites before they got into the water and caused even bigger problems."
Foy said he and other members of Krogen’s team thought Krogen was going to live, because he was still breathing after the fall and had medical technicians by his side.
"We all hiked out. Shane was breathing when we saw him. We all thought he was going to make it," Foy said.
Krogen was the winner of the U.S. Forest Service's Regional Forester's Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012.
His friends have said Krogen’s passion for the environment was evident in his work.
Source: The Modesto Bee