Michael Cigler slips from Angels Rest; investigation into death is ongoing

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Michael Cigler, an avid hiker, posed for this July 21 photo on a trail overlooking the Columbia River. Michael A. Cigler, a 29-year-old Hillsboro resident, perished early Sunday after falling from near the top of the Angel’s Rest trail in the Columbia River Gorge east of Corbett.

According to a report from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, an emergency call reporting a fall came in at approximately 10 a.m. Sept. 1 and deputies responded with emergency personnel from Multnomah County Fire District No. 14, based in Corbett.

According to Fire Chief Phil Dearixon, the Corbett station is about eight miles from the trail.

“We were on scene at 10:32 a.m. and reached the victim at 11:28,” Dearixon said.

Cigler, a UPS employee, was out for a hike on the popular trail with fellow UPS employee Rachelle Berrigan, 21. Near the top of the trail, the pair had stopped to rest on a large rock, and Cigler slipped and fell into thick brush below.

Berrigan, who lives in Orchards, Wash., called for help. She said she could not see where Cigler had fallen because of the heavy undergrowth, and he did not respond when she called out to him.

While deputies, fire personnel and an ambulance crew responded to the Angel’s Rest trailhead, another hiker passing through the area was able to make his way down to where Cigler had fallen. The unidentified hiker reported that Cigler was unresponsive, and he could not detect a pulse.

According to law enforcement reports, Cigler fell approximately 75 feet.

“It’s a sheer drop,” said Dearixon. “If you fall off that, it’s not going to be good. He was at the viewpoint, and the edge is very unstable there. It’s not a good spot to be.”

On Tuesday, Lt. Steve Alexander of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into the circumstances regarding Cigler’s fall has not yet been completed.

“The death investigation is ongoing,” Alexander said. “There is no indication of foul play.”

Cigler worked as a package handler at a UPS distribution center in Tualatin. In a posting on his Google profile site, Cigler shared his philosophy on life.

“Live it, embrace it, enjoy it,” he wrote.

With a touch of wry humor, Cigler added that although his day job was not the most glamorous, he was having a good time in life and maintained an upbeat attitude.

“Just a lowly peon that does manual labor but enjoys exhausting vacations, hiking, drinking, etc.,” he wrote.

Dearixon said reports that emergency personnel rappelled down from above to reach Cigler were erroneous.

“We did not rappel. We climbed up to him from a trail below, and set up a rope system to lower him down,” Dearixon explained.

The recovery of Cigler’s body took nearly two hours. The Angel’s Rest trail was closed while the process was under way.

Efforts to contact Berrigan or members of Cigler’s family were unsuccessful prior to press time Wednesday.

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