RAMONA, Calif. -- Authorities Thursday released the name of a 16-year-old boy who died at a waterfall near Ramona that has become a popular summer party spot for young people.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department was notified about the accident at about 11:30 a.m. at Cedar Creek Falls, Sheriff's spokeswoman Melissa Aquino said. Joseph Meram of El Cajon plunged about 80 feet from the granite rocks above the pool at the bottom of the falls, hitting his head on a boulder on the way down.
Friends of the badly injured El Cajon teen made a 911 call and carried him up a steep slope to a clearing, where an emergency-services helicopter crew picked him up, Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said. The boy was flown to a Ramona-area fire station, where he was pronounced dead. His name was withheld pending family notification.
A 17-year-old boy hit by the falling teen was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido for treatment of apparently minor injuries, according to Mohler.
Family members told Sheriff's investigators that the boy may have slipped on the rocks while climbing above the pool. However, other reports say he purposely jumped into the pool.
Cedar Creek Falls, which is located on tributary of the upper San Diego River, can be accessed from a trailhead in San Diego Country Estates and from a more remote trail off of Eagle Peak Road near Julian. The spectacular falls drops into a large pool surrounded by granite boulders and cliffs. Many visitors jump from cliffs and boulders into the pool.
The remote area is a growing problem for Cal Fire and other public agencies, as more visitors become stranded there without enough water or proper footwear for the challenging hike out, according to Mohler.
Last weekend, emergency crews transported 10 or more injured, dehydrated or heat-exhausted people out of the rugged locale. And over the years, many youths have been injured trying to leap from the cliffs surrounding the shallow, rocky pool at the bottom of the falls.
"We've had a real issue with this place,'' the captain said.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed Cedar Creek Falls during the investigation.