Colorado has had its share of heartache these days due to Mother Nature’s occasional but unforgiving wrath, and a rock slide south of Denver took four more lives on Monday. 13-year-old Gracie Johnson did survive and, according to Today, it’s due to her father’s heroism.
The five hikers were taking on a trail near Agnes Vaille Falls in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests below Mt. Princeton when some boulders set a slide in motion. According to authorities, it looks as though Gracie’s father shielded her with his body just as the rocks came down.
Authorities are certain the other four hikers – one of whom was Buena Vista High School’s track coach and Gracie’s mother, Dawn – died in the slide.
“There are rocks in there that the engineers estimated weighed over 100 tons,” Chaffee County undersheriff John Spezze told Today. Spezze explained that the boulders likely came loose from a cliff bank above the falls and resulted in a slide that was several football fields wide.
First responder Nick Tolsma said, “I scoured over the rocks and looked underneath. (I was) looking for a survivor, and I heard a small girl cry out, and saw a hand. I went over and started tossing off the boulders.”
“I’m glad she survived,” Tolsma continued about the McGinnis Middle School student, who suffered a broken leg. “Her dad is a real hero, saved her life.”
According to Chaffee County sheriff Pete Palmer, the cause of the slide was likely due to the recent and heavy rain and freezing temperatures, which might have made the terrain unstable.
This is such a tragedy, but we are so happy that the girl survived. Our hearts go out to Gracie and the rest of her family.