A 17-year-old Utah girl lost her footing and plunged 30 feet to her death from a ledge off of a Utah hiking trail on Friday afternoon, according to Moab City Police Department. Zoe McKinney was hiking with a group of friends on the route near Kane Creek in the Moab community on a Friday afternoon when she fell to her death.
She had reached a steep place without equipment before she fell from the ledge after losing her footing. Her friends called 911 after they couldn't safely get in touch with her. Search and rescue crews rushed to the scene and rappelled down using harnesses and climbing equipment to where she had fallen.
McKinney's fall was reported to police by her friends around 4:10 pm, but officials struggled to reach her due to how far she had fallenâcalling it a "deep, cliffy area." Finally, an officer was able to reach the 17-year-old by rappelling down using ropes and harnesses with assistance from several other agencies in the area.
According to a statement from Moab Police Department head Jared Garcia, McKinney was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Moab Police Assistant Chief Lex Bell, who knew McKinney, the entire town will be heartbroken by her death. Bell said that McKinney was well-known in the close-knit Moab town and that the senior at Grand County High School was due to receive an award during a nighttime basketball game on the day of her death.
"She's really well-known in the community and I've met her," Bell said. "It's unbelievably tragic.
"The timing is even just that much more tragic with tonight and what was going to occur," Bell added.
Since everyone in Moab and Grand County knew one other, the assistant police chief said that McKinney had a sizable family and friend base there. The teen, who was in her senior year of high school, also received tributes from family members, friends, and school administrators.
The Grand County School District, where McKinney went to school, issued a statement on the teenager's death on Friday.
"The school community is grieving with Zoe's family and will provide love and support in any way we can, including having therapists available at school on Monday," the statement read. "Zoe was a remarkable student and we will honor her memory throughout the remainder of this senior year."
Lloyd Gist, 18, who had been dating McKinney for almost a year when she died. When Gist learned that his sweetheart had passed away, he was in Salt Lake City. She had been a cheerleader when Gist played football for the Grand County High School team, he said.
"She had the brightest smile," Gist told NBC News. "She was just the sweetest â if anyone asked her to do anything she would be jumping on it instantly."
Following McKinney's death, the school district started a hotline for any students in need of counseling.