4-Year-old Dies in Fall off South Rim of Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon near Mather Point; 'sbisson' via Flickr.

Grand Canyon near Mather Point; 'sbisson' via Flickr.

A 4-year-old girl has been killed in a fall from the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Park officials say the unidentified girl fell about 450 feet off the rim about 11:30 this morning from a point just west of Mather Point, the most popular scenic view in the park.

The girl's father scrambled down the cliff below the rim to reach his daughter. When rescue crews arrived on scene, the father had already begun CPR; however, the girl was pronounced dead on scene shortly thereafter, the park reported.

The South Entrance Road along Mather Point was closed for a short time while a long-haul operation was conducted to remove the girl's body from the canyon. The father was then removed via a short haul operation due to an ankle injury sustained from scrambling over the edge.

National Park Service rangers are investigating the accident.


How in the hell does this stuff happen? What were the parents doing? How can anyone climb over or under and fall that distance. Anybody give a damn???

Isn't iit obvious? Children move fast. The poor parents will be beating themselves up over the guilt for the rest of their lives.

An adult has to hold onto a 4 year old at all the Grand Canyon overlooks. Constantly and tight.

They don't have to "climb over or under" anything to fall off the edge. Most of the edge does not have a fence. I would not have let go of my child's hand for one second.

my heart goes out to the poor parents.the guilt for the rest of there lives. i pray for them to god in jesus name.


What parent has never done something stupid or careless that could have resulted in tragedy? Ever "almost" get in that car wreck that could have killed yourself or your kids? It only takes a second, folks. My heart grieves for this family. Their grief will be deep and lasting and I pray that if they have other children they manage to find joy with them in future years.

Cactusdar, that is one of the nicest posts I have ever read in this blog!

My first reaction was close to Steve but after thinking a bit, I can't help but feel bad for the parents and the guilt that they must shoulder for the rest of their lives. However, parks that are great for families are not necessarily child-safe proof nor should they be. Nature can be dangerous and families and children need to be educated on this and made aware of these dangers.

Nature is beautiful,alluring and spectacular.
And on the other side of the coin, harsh and un-compromising.
My most heart felt condolences go out to the parents of this child after this most unfortunate event.
This should remind us all how precious life is and how quick things can change in a moment and when in a unfamiliar places we should be extra cautious and on guard.
Again,me and my family send our best wishes to those involved.God Bless.

This is such a tragic incident, and while I do think the parents could have been watching her more carefully, accidents do happen, and in most cases they are not as fatal as this. This should remind us how lucky we are to be alive. My heart goes out to the mother and father, and the young girl whose life was tragically cut short.

This accident just happened when my family and I arrived at the Grand Canyon. I was shocked when I heard that a young girl went over the rim and the rescue mission just started upon our arrival. I did not think about it before, but was quite surprised how much of the rim is not secured by a fence. I was even more surprised when I saw several people during this visit sitting or lying literally at the edge of a rock! There is a drop-off of at least 300 ft right below them. I also saw several little children walking around with their parents who were NOT holding them. It was a hard breaking scene at the South Rim and I keep thinking about it.
It was my first visit at the Grand Canyon and it was a great experience, unfortunately, the accident was always in the back in my mind.

This is a very tragic accident to be sure. But I hope that it does not prompt the NPS to install more fences at the rim. People do take foolish risks at the rim. They stand on crumbling rocks. They get way to close to the edge. They hop from outcropping to outcropping with only 400 feet of air underneath them. Read "Over the Edge" by Michael Ghiglieri which details how dangerous the Grand Canyon is however most of that danger is due to people being unprepared or negligent. The beauty of the canyon should not be marred by more fencing. There are ample warning signs all along the rim, (for those for whom the dangers aren't already obvious).

The national parks with their beauty and one-of-a-kind appeal tend to keep parents and others from considering the potential dangers which may exist as well. Children, unless they are restrained by a rope from parent to child or by the stern warnings given beforehand to stay close and not run ahead, will inevitably be attracted to and run to see what lies ahead (a view from the rim, a steaming geyser pool, etc..) Parents should be forewarned, "Keep Your Child Close!"

My husband and I visited the Grand Canyon in September of this year - 2007. We rode the train up to the Village and walked along the sidewalks near the hotels and shops. Even though there was a rock wall, it didn't cover the entire area and it was only about two-to-three feet tall, maybe not even that tall. It had a rim/edge on top that you could sit on. Anyone could fall over if they were not careful. I would never let a child sit there for fear they might fall. There were even openings along the walkway that had no barriers at all. I made sure I stayed away from those areas and was always on the alert.

Any child that is active and likes to run just for the fun of it, could easily run off the sidewalks and fall. Parents would have to be ever vigilent on this type of trip. But even a grownup could slip if they got too close.

We noticed all along the east scenic drive that there were areas that you could stop to look and there were some railings but you could still see paths that others had worn to get to areas without a railing. Anyone could fall easily if they got too close to the edge, either by loose rocks or not paying attention. We even saw an older couple who had their picture taken and they were standing about two feet from the edge. I thought they were crazy and I was the one taking their picture. It was scary! No way would I get that close. I don't have a death wish.

My principal was the Grandfather of this tragedy and left the school to go to Arizona for the funeral an dgrieve with his family for two weeks it stunk.

Steve's opening comments certainly inspire anyone with a clue about what life is like parenting children to respond. This little 4-year old yanked away from her parent in an act of willfulness, and it had the most tragic of consequences. Every one of us - especially anyone who is a parent - can look at this and grieve, knowing that it could have been any one of us. The poor parents are traumatized... who wouldn't be.

It could have just as easily happened when the child got out of a car, yanked away from her parent and ran in front of a moving vehicle. As much as we'd like to be, parents just aren't omnipotent or capable of being omnipresent. With HINDsight, I would say I wouldn't take a child that age, or one that had a propensity to be willful. Hmmm, with the latter requirement, I wouldn't take my 16 year olds either! SO, hindsight isn't very useful in this. We try to give our children life-enriching experiences. Sometimes even the most SAFE activities we could think of have tragic consequences.

Wishing peace for this family.

i think its the parks fault. they need to make sure that the park is secure not just for children, but for everyone. the grand canyon is a huge cliff and if anyone lost their balance or anything else they need a fence or something to keep them from falling off. i mean they shouldnt even allow people to be that close to the edge.

I just returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful and breathtaking site. However could not help but notice the dozens of people standing too close to the edge to get that perfect picture or climbing over and beyond the railings. One person climbed all the way to the tip of a rock cliff with a drop of about 300 to 400 ft. while onlookers stood by and watched. It would not improve the situation by building a fence or a wall around the intire canyon , It would obstruct the view and certain individuals would climb over anyway. It is a National park not Disneyland, and certainly not upto the NPS to stand guard over every individual that decides to visit the park. Exteme caution should be taken when being involved in outdoor activities such as this, and even in our best efforts a tragedy can accur. Thoughts and prayers to Steve and his family.

Anyone who says that they "would not let go of a child's hand for one second" either does not have children or lives in a dream world. This is real life and the world is an imperfect place. My heart breaks for the parents of this poor kid. The memory of this event will haunt them forever. It's too bad that some idiots focus on how such a thing could only be an act of negligence. Wake up, idiots.

LOL! You're right Russell.... they probably haven't had kids.

I heard this story a long time ago and every once in a while it would drift out of the back of my mind because of just the sheer horror of it and what the parents must go through. I finally decided to try to verify the story and I googled child fell down grand canyon and this story came right up. I was very disaapointed that this wasn't another urban legend.

We and our kids need a lot of prayers just for them to make it through childhood. I had a young girl child once and we were standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn green when she looses her footing and begins tottering toward the street as a couple cars were approaching. I had to grab her by the hair to make sure she didn't stumble into the street.

That seems extreme to me but anyone with kids knows how this is! A child restraint leash is good but I don't even think taking a child up to the GC is such a good idea.

I have to say, this verifies my cynicism when I toured the South rim once. The place was crawling with urban brats of all kinds who were clueless about being in the outdoors. Kids running rampant, women hiking trails in high heels. It was a ridiculous three ring circus. They were ALL like a bunch of children in need of supervision, not just the 4 year olds. They wer fairly rude and mannerless to boot. The sad thing is that the park system even let's ANY of them in in the first place! There should at least be a dress code! Those kind of people should stay in their city parks in Yonkers or whereever they come from and leave the great outdoors to people that know how to appreciate it.

Whoa, Rudee, that's pretty harsh. I agree that many groups of inner city kids (and even from other areas of the country) at times seem to be running like wild packs in the parks. But if they don't even get a chance to experience a park how can they learn to appreciate them?

I remember a trip to Yosemite when there was a large contingent of kids I suspected came from the LA area (or somewhere similar). They were loud and raucous into the night at Camp Curry and early the next morning. But the long hike to Half Dome wore them down. I figured they either came away with a great appreciation for that wonderful place, or determined never to set foot there again. But at least they had an opportunity to see it for themselves and make that decision.

I don't think we should deny anyone that opportunity.

"An adult has to hold onto a 4 year old at all the Grand Canyon overlooks. Constantly and tight."
I agree, but I also agree that accidents happen. Sometimes in the wink of an eye. When I was little my family and I visited the Grand Canyon. I was clearly told to stay back away from the edge. My sister and I were playing on a hill perhaps a hundred yards or so away from the edge while my mom and dad were taking photographs. My sister was chasing me and I ran down the hill. My momentum was such that I couldn't stop at the bottom and almost ran off the edge of the canyon. My dad grabbed me at the last instant. One second we were well back away from danger, no reason for my parents to be concerned, the next I had one leg hanging over the precipice and my arm nearly being ripped out of its socket by my dad. I am forever grateful that he was able to react so quickly.

I was all excited to make a trip out to the grand canyon, and now I don't even want to go with houw dangerous it sounds. I would take my family, but it seems like we'd have to see the rim from the car as I would lock all the doors and not let anyone out.

C'mon people! Of course the Grand Canyon is Dangerous. This is NOT Disney Land! Its a Mile Deep hole in the Ground. But, don't let that ruin your excitement for going there. If you ever thought that the Grand Canyon or any canyon or wilderness area wasn't a potentially dangerous place, then it is good that you finally realized that. It is beautiful, but wild and it belongs to the earth and wild things. We humans may think its our land, and we sell tickets at the gate, but Its not REALLY ours to fence in and disrupt wildlife. Show some respect for Nature! You take a risk any time you enter a wilderness. If you don't know that, then you could be in for a very rude awakening. Actually the whole state of Arizona, even in populated areas, is really just a big wild desert.

huh? The parks fault because this 4 year old child fell over. There are signs posting the danger about falling. One sign clearly states if you fall it would be fatal. I was there in 1997 and there was a couple that went past the railings. One member of my family asked a guide what would happen if you fell. This child said oh you mean that I'd be rescued by helicopter. This child thought that if someone fell that they'd survive the fall and the guide informed him nope.

a way that the parents could keep the kids from runing(we know they can just slip out of our hands whenever) is by buying one of vests they make to put kids in so they cant run away

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Accidents happen every day and this one wasn't because the parents did something wrong by losing sight of their kid because if you saw a parent looking for their kid at Wal-Mart or woodmans you wouldn't go on and on about it you would just brush it aside and go on with your life. The only thing the parents did wrong was that they brought a 4 year old to the Grand Canyon. I'm not trying to be judging or anything but it's just that they might be able to wait a few years so the child will be able to remember it better. That's just what I think. I want the parents to know that I’ll be praying for them and their daughter.