A mother-of-two from California plummeted to her death from a waterfall as she heroically tried to save a teenage girl who lost her footing during a hike last week, authorities said.
Sarah Crocker, 48, of Ladera Ranch, was spending the morning with family and friends at Three Sisters Falls in the Cleveland National Forest Thursday when tragedy struck.
According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, at around 10 a.m. Crocker and her companions, identified as four teenagers, were walking along the ledge of a waterfall when one of the youngsters slipped.
“The woman supervising the teenagers attempted to keep the girl from going over the ledge,” the sheriff’s agency said. “Unfortunately, both the woman and girl fell and suffered severe injuries.”
Several people witnessed the accident and tried to help by administering first aid, but Crocker died after landing in the waterfall’s bottom pool area.
The medical examiner concluded that Crocker died from “multiple blunt force injuries” and drowning. Her manner of death was ruled an accident.
The teen she was trying to save was flown by helicopter to a hospital to be treated for severe but non-life-threatening injuries to her neck and back, reported 10News.com.
The US Forest Service describes Three Sisters Falls as “often crowded, yet challenging hike” with a “moderate to strenuous” level of difficulty.
According to a GoFundMe page, Crocker worked as a naturalist at the Nature Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo in South Orange County, leading elementary school field trips.
“Sarah grew up outdoors, the daughter of an Environmental Educator, observing animals and plants in their Native Habitats,” the Nature Reserve’s website says. “Inspired by spending time in our wild open spaces, Sarah finds that the only thing better than studying the natural world is sharing that experience with others.”
The woman is survived by her husband, Brad, and their children, Owen and Delaney.
“Sarah was pure joy,” the organizer of the online fundraiser wrote. “Her love of family, friends and all things outdoors made her special to all who knew her.”
Crocker grew up in Laguna Beach, studied graphic design at Cal Polym-San Luis Obispo and earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the Laguna College of Art and Design.
Her friends described her as a “talented and accomplished artist,” as well as an active member of the community through her children’s school and extracurricular activities.
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