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A Death in the Mountains

Tahquitz Peak Near Palm Springs

Tahquitz Peak Near Palm Springs

I used to have a good friend named Alex (or Iskander) Toubia, a Arab Christian from Nabatiyah, Lebanon. He married a cute blonde nurse from Cincinnati and had a daughter by her. Then something happened to the marriage, and the wife left with the daughter.

Then began a period of depression for my friend. He was in business for a while with his brothers in a manufacturing company that made parts for the auto industry. He bought a big house in Orange County. One year, he went to Rio for Carnival and engaged in some dissipation, bringing back some soft core porn videos.

Somewhere around this time, I lost track of Alex. One day, I decided to do an Internet search for his name and found out what happened with him: He had gone hiking on Tahquitz Peak in Riverside County wearing crampons (for the first time). He slipped and fell—fell quite a long way, striking his head against a tree, killing him instantly.

The website from the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit that describes the attempt to recover his body is still up on the Internet and is well worth reading. One of the rescuers suffered a similar fate, hit his head against a tree, and went into a coma—from which, fortunately, he recovered.

The whole story sounded very much like Alex. He loved to go hiking, and he had become something of a loner. That’s not the best combination. I love to hike, too, but would not venture on a difficult trail on my own, especially in the mountains. Life is fragile enough as it is.