Sheriff: Tempe climber killed by falling boulder - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Sheriff: Tempe climber killed by falling boulder

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -

A Tempe family is devastated after a freak accident killed a climber east of the valley on Sunday.

The 66-year-old man was experienced and was not actually climbing when he was killed.

This happened in an area about 35 miles east of Apache Junction near Superior.  There are miles of scenic canyons all through there -- a popular one is Devil's Canyon.

Pinal County Sheriff's rescue tells us they got the call for help at about 4:00 p.m. Sunday from the Devil's Canyon area.

Two experienced climbers had gone up the rock face.

The man who died, John Scott, was standing in an area helping his climbing partner safely down in a rope process called belaying.  They were both on the ground.

A woman climber says she looked up, saw the large rock coming and yelled "rock!"

Scott looked up and there wasn't enough time to dodge it.  The boulder hit him and he died at the scene.

I talked to climbing expert Joe Czerwinski of Focus Climbing Center in Mesa.  He says he understands the composition of the rock in this area and anything could have triggered that boulder.

"It could have been something at the top of the cliff that came dislodged.. dirt eroded and it happened to fall at that very time, it could have been someone hiking, it could have been a million things.. coyote, something running past," he said.

John Scott was a member of the Arizona Mountaineering Club.  We could not reach anyone from the club for comment on his tragic death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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