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By Miriam Raftery


September 7, 2011 (San Diego) Updated 12:00 p.m. – The body of a “young man” has been found along  a popular trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, a park employee has informed East County Magazine.


The body was found in a brush-covered area about a half mile north of the Visitor's Center, down the slope from the road known as Father Junipero Serra Trail. 


"They found the body nine feet off the trail; the trail is actually a road,"  Rory Johnson of Santee, who was rock-climbing in the area with a partner early this morning, told ECM in an interview.  "My climbing partner heard coyotes howling, he said they were just going crazy, more so than usual."



Johnson said his partner arrived at 6:30 a.m.  I passed by at 7 a.m. and I didn't see anybody," he recalled.  "We were rock climbing up above and saw the police starting to show up, and the fire trucks...Another hour or so later they pulled the body out."


Johnson noted that there is a visitor center hiking trail loop a short distance further off the road.  "I would speculate that he was hiking and that he may have had some sort of emergency and tried to hike back to the road to get help," he added, suggesting rattlesnake bite, heart attack or heat exhaustion as possibilities.


The trail is well-traveled by hikers and is regularly patrolled, a park employee noted, adding that she believed the death likely occurred during the night or early in the morning, before the park opened to visitors.


The body was reported around 8:30 a.m. and San Diego County Medical Examiner arrived on scene around 10 a.m.


Details on the victim's identity and cause of death have not yet been released by officials. 


However, Santee Patch reports that SDPD spokesman Gary Hassen has said there were no indications that the cause of death was not natural.


The trail is a popular route for hikers, cyclists, joggers and rock-climbing enthusiasts. 

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