Park ranger dies at astronomy festival

BRYCE CANYON, UT – A beloved park ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park tragically lost his life on Friday after suffering a fatal injury while assisting visitors during the park’s annual Astronomy Festival.

The National Park Service (NPS) reported that 78-year-old Park Ranger Tom Lorig was helping attendees at approximately 11:30 p.m. when he directed a visitor to a shuttle bus and accidentally fell. During the fall, Lorig struck his head on a large rock, rendering him unresponsive. A nearby visitor quickly alerted a law enforcement park ranger to the incident.

Despite the immediate response from several park rangers, medically trained bystanders, and local emergency medical services, efforts to revive Lorig were unsuccessful. “Tom Lorig served Bryce Canyon, the National Park Service, and the public as an interpretive park ranger, forging connections between the world and these special places that he loved,” said Park Superintendent Jim Ireland. “As our community processes and grieves this terrible loss, we extend our deepest condolences to all of Ranger Lorig’s family and friends. We also want to express gratitude to the National Park Service and Garfield County emergency services staff who responded as well as to the bystanders who assisted NPS first responders.”

Lorig had a long and distinguished career, both as a registered nurse in the Seattle area for 40 years and as a park ranger for over a decade. His journey with the NPS began in June 1968 at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Over the years, he served at 13 other national park sites, including Badlands, Bryce Canyon, El Malpais, Florissant Fossil Beds, Glen Canyon, Klondike Gold Rush, Mount Rainier, New River Gorge, Olympic, Saguaro, Yosemite, Zion, and Dinosaur National Monument.

The Bryce Canyon community and the broader NPS family are mourning the loss of a dedicated public servant whose contributions spanned decades and touched the lives of many. A post on the Bryce Canyon NPS Facebook page honored Lorig’s memory, highlighting his dedication and the impact he had on those who knew him.

As the park and its visitors remember Ranger Lorig, his legacy as a committed steward of America’s natural treasures will endure. His passion for connecting people with the beauty and wonder of national parks will not be forgotten.