4-year-old girl's Canyon death difficult for rescuers

A four-year-old girl was killed in a 450-foot fall over the rim of the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Natalie Yeargan of Litchfield Park, Ariz., was reported over the rim of the Canyon just west of the popular Mather Point shortly after 11:30 a.m.

Her father scrambled down the cliff below the rim to reach her but his efforts to revive her failed. The South Entrance Road that passes Mather Point was closed for a short time while a long-haul operation was conducted to remove the body. Her father was then removed via a short haul operation due to an ankle injury sustained from scrambling over the edge. The girl's body was transported to the South Rim helibase and turned over to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office in Flagstaff.

According to park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge the accident occurred in an area where the rim was about 20 feet from the trail and wasn't barred by guardrails.

She said that while rangers deal with a handful of fatal falls each year, most involve adults and most of those are intentional. This one has been especially hard on rescue workers, who will undergo a critical incident stress debriefing. Visitors were also hit hard, she said, with many breaking into tears when they learned that the girl didn't survive the fall. Most left the scene before the body was removed, she said.

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