Mother of hiker seriously injured in rock fall in Little Cottonwood Canyon speaks

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SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Tricia Liddiard is close with her 25-year-old daughter, Jessie.

“She’s amazing. She’s just the kindest, sweetest soul ever,” Tricia said.

She says her daughter, a graduate of Bingham High School in southern Jordan and alumnus of the University of Utah, enjoys activities like skiing, mountain biking and rock climbing.

“She just wants to live a life full of adventure. She loves the outdoors,” Tricia said.

Jessie and her boyfriend went out to Little Cottonwood Canyon on Friday. Tricia said the two were hiking around 11:30 a.m. when Jessie was hit in the head by a large rock, causing serious injury.

“They had arrived at the base and there was another couple who were there who saw the rock fall,” Tricia said.

Witnesses and people nearby told Tricia they estimated the volleyball-sized boulder fell between 120 and 300 feet before hitting Jessie, who was wearing a helmet at the time.

“It’s my worst nightmare,” Tricia said. “I was always worried that she would hurt herself falling – I never thought of a rock fall, I guess.”

Jessie was airlifted to University of Utah Hospital and was in intensive care recovering.

Tricia says the rock impact shattered her daughter’s skull and she had to have surgery to remove the right part of her skull.

However, true to Jessie’s spirit, her mother says she continues to fight.

“The main thing I would like is that I just want people to pray for my daughter. She’s just the most beautiful soul there is,” Tricia said.

Now Tricia says it’s a waiting game to see how Jessie responds when she wakes up.

“I just can’t live without her. I need her,” she said.

Tricia told FOX 13 News some encouraging news on Tuesday — Jessie is moving around a bit, even though she’s not awake right now.

A GoFundMe was set up for Jessie, with all donations going towards medical care at the hospital, as well as rehabilitation.

Rich Giraud, senior geologist with the Utah Geological Survey, said the overall rockfall occurrence is very sporadic. However, he told FOX 13 News there were more frequent rockfalls after significant periods of rainfall and freeze-thaw events.

Giraud said avoidance is the best risk reduction measure in the event of a rockslide. He advises outdoor enthusiasts to avoid the area at the foot of a slope with rockfall deposits.

UGS records indicate there were 16 rockfall deaths between 1874 and 2019, Giraud said. However, he said the UGS did not keep records of the number of injuries from rockfalls.

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