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Ten Long-forgotten but Incredible Tales of Gals plunging over Cliffs

Recent stories of young women falling from high places, such as the Grand Canyon, while trying to take selfies are shocking and upsetting.  However, gals plunging over high cliffs in unusual circumstances is not a new phenomenon.  Here are ten incredible tales of women and girls falling from great heights in the 1900s. While most of these stories ended tragically, a few lucky victims survived.

ONE: Girl Blown over the Cliffs of Moher Whilst Taking a Photograph

In February of 1933, a 35-year-old woman named Bridie Flanagan, while attempting to take a photograph of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, on the western coast of Ireland, was blown from the top and fell hundreds of feet to her death.

Miss Flanagan, who was a resident of the nearby town of Lisdoonvarna, had returned to her home country only weeks earlier after living in the United States for ten years.  Recently, she had a letter from one of her two brothers in New York.  He expressed a desire to have a photograph of the beautiful cliffs, which are the highest in Ireland.

Bridie, trying to fulfill his wish, had just set up her camera and gotten into position to take the photograph when a fierce gust of wind pushed her over the edge of the cliff.  She fell quite a distance to a ledge.  Unfortunately, there was no rope in the vicinity long enough to reach her body right away and thus it remained on the ledge overnight.  Another effort to secure it by local authorities was planned for the next day.  

TWO: Princeton Professor loses grip on daughter at Yosemite Park

Miss Elizabeth Jones, the 17-year-old daughter of Professor L.W. Jones, head of the chemistry department of Princeton University, fell to her death over a cliff and into the swirling waters of the Merced river in Yosemite Valley on August 6, 1922.  

The accident occurred just after Miss Jones posed for a photograph taken by her father.  She was standing on a geodetic survey stone very close to the edge of a cliff about fifty feet south of the Vernal Falls bridge. According to tourists who witnessed the accident, Professor Jones grabbed Elizabeth’s hand as she started to fall but she slipped out of his grasp and fell over the precipice and into the rapids.  He made a frantic effort to save her and only narrowly escaped the same fate.  

Park and Forest rangers were called right away.  After a 24-hour long search, they recovered Miss Jones’ body in a pool below Vernal Falls.  Professor Jones, despite being on the verge of collapse, aided in the search to the best of his ability and was present when his Elizabeth’s body was found.

The professor and his daughter had arrived at Yosemite only the day before the tragedy.  They had spent six weeks in Berkeley, California, where he was an instructor in the summer session of the University of California, and they were taking a vacation at Yosemite Park before heading back east.  Miss Jones was due to enter Wellesley College for the fall term.

THREE:  Nurse Sings and Falls to her Death from the Continental Divide

Miss Eugenia Goold, a 28-year-old trained nurse, fell over a 900-foot precipice on the south side of the Twin Sisters’ Mountains in the Sangre de Cristo Range, early in the morning of August 20, 1907, and was instantly killed.

Initial reports were that Miss Goold, who had been camping in the area with a party of four, was reaching over the edge of the cliff for a flower when she lost her balance.  Only one of her group of friends was with her at the time of the accident.  This young man reported that he heard her scream but he was powerless to save her.

A friend of Miss Gould’s gave a more detailed account of the tragedy a month later.  She stated that Miss Goold and Mr. Adolphus Lapham had started out from their camp early in the morning to climb to the summit of the mountain range.  On the very crest of the Continental Divide, they sat down to rest.  Miss Goold rolled stones over the precipice for several minutes and then noticed a placard which read, “Where will you spend eternity?” Signs such as this had been placed throughout the mountains by spiritual persons interested in saving souls. This hymm was Miss Goold’s favorite and she began to sing it.  As she sang, she looked down hundreds of feet to the foot of the precipice. “Where will you spend eternity?” she chimed. Suddenly, the rock upon which she sat rolled, causing her to fall over the cliff.  She uttered one cry, “Adolphus!” as she plunged downward. Miss Goold struck a protruding rock twenty feet below and then bounded to the bottom of the cliff.  Mr. Lapham started down at once to reach her but this journey took two hours.  When he reached the bottom, he found Ms. Goold’s body and carried it to a snowbank. He then returned to the campsite five miles away and reported to the others what had happened.  

FOUR: Mother killed in effort of rescue her daughter

On February 11, 1902, Mrs. Eldwood P. Fichenon, her 14-year old daughter, Mabel, and a neighbor’s child, Alberta Collins, all of Morristown, New Jersey, went out on a hike to see a forest fire on nearby Copperas Mountain.  They climbed up a steep hill to get a better view and stood near the edge of a 200 foot high cliff.

It was a very windy day and Mabel walked toward the edge of the cliff.  Suddenly, her skirt was caught up in a violent gust of wind and she was carried along despite all of her efforts to stop.  Mrs. Fichenon saw that Mabel was in danger and ran after her.  Just as she grasped at her daughter’s blowing skirt, Mabel was blown over the edge of the precipice.  Mrs. Fichenon could not keep her balance and both fell to the rocks below.

The Collins girl was not injured and ran for help. Rescuers could not save Mrs. Fichenon whose neck was broken and whose death had been instantaneous.  Mabel was badly hurt and her arms were broken but she was expected to live.  

FIVE: Girl survives three-day ordeal stranded on the rocky Oregon coast

Becky Roever, a 12-year-old girl from Bellaire, Texas, was lucky to be alive after being lost for three days on a rocky stretch of the Oregon coast.

The girl had vanished while walking ahead of her parents on a trail at the Ecola State Park near Canon Beach on Friday, July 7, 1961.  The Oregon State police were called in to help find her.  Officers and a large search party searched the area for three days but came up empty. Authorities speculated that Miss Roever fell into the sea from an area prone to slides and was swept out to sea. However, the girl’s father, William Roever, said he did not believe that she had had fallen into the ocean and he offered a $250 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.

Miraculously, on Monday, July 10th, 1961, Becky Roever was spotted by a fisherman, Unio Rautio of Seaside.  “She saw me before I saw her,” Rautio said.  “She called for help.” A helicopter braved heavy fog and flew close to the cliffs to land on the narrow beach where Becky was found to bring her to safety.

Becky recuperated at a hospital where doctors reported that she was in good condition.  She survived without food and with only a trickle of water from a spring.  Her mother explained that Becky had indeed fallen down a high bluff onto the remote beach.   (LINKS 8, 9, and 10)