Steep fall from famous Lookout Mountain overlook claims life of 30-year-old woman

Steep fall from famous Lookout Mountain overlook claims life of 30-year-old woman

July 1st, 2015 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

Previous accidents

* In 2013, emergency responders rescued a man who fell about 50 feet while hiking at Sunset Rock. The 30-year-old sustained critical injuries and was flown to Erlanger in critical condition.

* In 2006, a climber fell 25 feet about 1.5 miles south of the Bluff Trail at Sunset Rock. The climber in that incident landed about 45 feet above the trail, and rescue workers used ropes to lower the man to the trail. That rescue took about two hours.

* In 2003, a 43-year-old survived a 40-foot fall at Sunset Rock, and was rescued by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County cave and cliff team, which took less than an hour to pull him to safety.

* in 1997, an unidentified climber fell 25 feet from Sunset Rock. The man, who suffered fractures to his pelvis, was rescued and taken to Erlanger. At the time, Scott Freedman, the information officer for the cave-cliff rescue unit, said the unit received roughly one to two calls per week during the summer months to aid in rescue efforts.

Source: Times Free Press archives

Gallery: Sunset Rock photos and rescue operation

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A 30-year-old woman is believed to have fallen to her death Tuesday evening from Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain.

The woman, whose name was not released, was found lying on a trail at the base of Sunset Rock by two hikers, and it appeared that she had fallen about 90 feet from the overlook above, according to first responders.

Two hikers who found the woman around 5:15 p.m. immediately called 911 and began CPR, according to Todd Roeder, chief ranger at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the system of parks to which Sunset Rock belongs.

"Once the rescue unit arrived on scene they found that the woman had no pulse and could not be resuscitated," Roeder said from the scene.

Sunset Rock is a local hiking and climbing destination with a great view. The rock, a favorite of climbers and postcard collectors alike, is located in a quiet residential area on Lookout Mountain. The woman who fell was believed to have been alone and not climbing, and initial signs did not point toward foul play, according to Roeder.

The Hamilton County medical examiner is tasked with determining the cause of death, but the National Park Service will lead the investigation into the death.

Emergency personnel ranging from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue and Cave/Cliff division, the Lookout Mountain Police and Fire Department and Hamilton County EMS waited in the parking lot at Sunset Rock throughout the evening.

Since the woman was determined dead at the scene responders were not in a rush to recover the body. They waited on the medical examiner to arrive and document the scene before they carried the body in a portable plastic stretcher up the rocky, steep trail to the waiting ambulance around 7:30 p.m.

Members of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Rescue team said they are called to the Sunset Rock area periodically, but that fatalities are rare.

Andrew Cavett, a resident of Lookout Mountain who lives near Sunset Rock, was outside his home helping to direct traffic away from the scene, as the portion of West Brow Road leading to the park was closed.

The last time he remembered this many emergency personnel coming to Sunset Rock for a rescue was last spring, Cavett said.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.


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