Two women on a morning hike Wednesday made an unsettling discovery in O'Neill Regional Park.
Near the top of the Coyote Canyon Trail, they found a 73-year-old man who had died earlier in the day. The county coroner later identified him as Dale Paradis of Rancho Santa Margarita and attributed his death to natural causes.
Two firefighters were dropped into the remote area via helicopter after the initial 9-1-1 call was made at 9:26 a.m., according to Capt. Marc Stone of the Orange County Fire Authority, but left after assessing the man's condition and turned it over to Orange County Sheriff's Department.
"It appeared natural to us, a man on an early morning hike by himself," Stone said, "but we didn't want to disturb anything. It appears he had been walking and went down on the trail. We're guesstimating he was out there very early this morning."
According to Lt. Steve Gil of the OCSD, it's a very mountainous area.
"Generally, it's not a good idea (to hike alone) but it's not like scuba diving and is accepted," Gil said.