2 October 2013

A selfless act of bravery – a father saves his daughter by shielding her with his body

Posted by Dave Petley

Further information is emerging about the fatal landslide on the flanks of Mount Princeton in Colorado on Monday, which killed five hikers from the same family.  The sole survivor is 13-year-old Gracie Johnson, who was extracted from the debris with a broken leg.  She has told the rescue staff that her father, Dwayne Johnson, threw his body over hers to protect her from the landslide in a selfless act of bravery.  Unfortunately, Gracie lost not only her father but also her mother, sister and two cousins, one of whom was aged 10.  Fortunately, it has now been possible to recover the bodies, an operation that had been delayed by ongoing instability. This screenshot from a report on NBC News, shows the landslide scar:

13_10 Colorado 4

A selfless act of bravery


Whilst this screenshot shows the deposit:

selfless act of bravery


The landslide occurred near to the foot of the Agnes Vaille waterfall.  There is no obvious trigger event, although the slope may have been destabilised by the recent very heavy rainfall.  Paul Lowrey posted a comment yesterday in which he noted that “the granite is pretty well fractured with prevailing west-ish dip”, and he included this photo that he took of the foot of the waterfall (note the people for scale):

A selfless act of bravery

Courtesy of Paul Lowery: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxsNL1kMLJxGLXM0WUd3TE81WFk/edit?usp=sharing


Unfortunately, these steep dipping rocks create a classic situation for a rockslide.  The degree of misfortune to be at the site when such an event occurs is hard to comprehend though.