Authorities Urge Safety After Deadly Garden of the Gods Fall


By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Andy Shofstall

SALINE CO. -- The steep, rock formations in the Shawnee National Forest lead to falls nearly every year. On Tuesday night, a young Gallatin County girl was killed in a fall at Garden of the Gods. It's a sad reminder that the popular hiking site can also be dangerous.

Emergency crews got the call just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday. A young girl had fallen around 100 feet from the rocks.
It's a situation and a rescue site that the Saline County Sheriff's Office knows all too well.
"We've got it down to about a science," said Sheriff Keith Brown. "As far as who responds and what type of items we need."
Brown and other local departments see more visitors to the Garden of the Gods recreational area during the warmer weather. Sadly, this season is off to a tragic start. Jenny Weiland, 12, of Ridgway died from her injuries.
You can view the obituary here. 
"There's always that chance," said Brown. "Whether you've been out there a million times or whether you've been out there once."
That's why Brown urges people to wear sturdy shoes and stay clear from the edges. It's easy to get knocked off balance.
"The falls out there are merciless," said Brown. 
Curtis Kretschmer of Bartelso plans to share some of that advice when he brings a youth group out to the rocks later this year.
He loves coming to the area and taking in the scenery. 
"You can sit, relax, enjoy a hike, look at all of the beauty," said Kretschmer. 
Kretschmer doesn't feel nervous about the trail. However, he'll be talking with leaders and the teens about using caution on their trip.
The last fatal accident at Garden of the Gods was in 2011. That's when a 44-year-old man from Evansville fell more than 75 feet.
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