A California zipline employee fell 100 feet to his death after sacrificing himself to save a stranded woman stuck on the zipline as he worried they might both fall under their combined weight.

The incident took place on Saturday at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in the Pauma Valley in southern California, between Los Angeles and San Diego.

Joaquin Romero was helping a woman on the platform get hooked into the gear when she slid onto the line. Mr Romero, 34, reportedly grabbed onto the harness to stop her from going further but was dragged away.

Fox 8 reported that they were hanging around 100 feet over the ground. An unidentified friend who recounted the incident said Mr Romero decided to let go instead of risking that they both fall. The zipline can hold 250 pounds (113 kg) at most and has a minimum weight requirement of 65 pounds (29 kg).

Mr Romero was severely injured after the fall. He was rescued by Cal Fire, using a low-angle rope system to pull him to the side of the road. After being airlifted to Sharp Memorial Hospital, he died on Monday morning. The woman reportedly suffered no injuries.

Normal Contreras, the tribal chairwoman of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, told KSWB: “We are saddened and heartbroken over the recent tragic accident involving one of our employees at the La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline.

“The Tribe, Tribal officials, employees and Tribal members extend our sincere condolences to our employee and his family for their loss. Like any employer, we pride ourselves on having a safe working environment and a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers.

“Given the circumstances of the accident, the Tribe is conducting an in-depth and comprehensive investigation, in coordination and cooperation with federal and state authorities. Until this investigation is completed, we won’t be able to provide any further comment on this incident. We ask that you join us in keeping our employee and his family in our prayers.”

La Jolla has three ziplines between 300 and 2,700 feet long, which can reach a top speed of 55 miles an hour. The tribe’s campground opened in 1930 and the zipline opened in September 2015.

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