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Teen falls to his death at the Grand Canyon

Posted: 11:34 PM, Jan 31, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-01 19:42:37Z

A San Diego teenager is being remembered after he was killed in a freak accident at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Park rangers said 18-year-old Luis Gonzales fell hundreds of feet off the rim near the South Kaibab Trailhead on Saturday. Because of the steep, treacherous and snowy terrain, rangers had to wait until Sunday to bring in a helicopter and remove Gonzales' body.

Friend Ulysses Jimenez said Gonzales was as close as family.

"Just the brother bond that we would have, just joke around, and go out and do guy stuff, were just like memories that you could never forget," Jimenez said. "We pretty much were like brothers; maybe not my blood, but we all went through stuff in our personal lives that we all helped each other through."

Jimenez said Gonzales went to the Grand Canyon with friends and got close to the edge -- even taking photos at one point.

"I guess they were just there enjoying the view, then at one point, one of my friends wanted to get a better view," Jimenez said. "He [Gonzales] fell back and hit his head and he was knocked out unconscious, and then he fell down that 400- foot drop, and he didn't make it."

Jimenez said his friend graduated last year from Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego and was working for a cleaning company. He said his friend ran cross country, loved working out and viewed their group of friends as family.

"No matter what was going through his life, he would always be there for you, and always bust out a smile," Jimenez said. "Just a good, happy guy all around. He joked a lot, busted the laughs, just the little things that he would do that would just make you crack up."

Jimenez said while the death of his friend has been extremely difficult, Gonzales wouldn't have wanted him to worry.

"God does things for a reason and we don't know why, we don't know for what reason, but I guess it was just his time, I just keep that in my mind," he said. "Luis would always want the best for us, he wouldn't want us to see cry and be depressed, he is the type of person who would be like, 'No, get up and keep going, everything is going to be OK,' and he's just a guardian angel now looking over us at all times."

Jimenez said the friends are now working on setting up a vigil, while the family works to bring back his body from Arizona.

National Park Service officials and the Coconino County Medical Examiner are investigating.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money for the family.