Mom Directs Teen’s Alaskan Rescue From 2,250 Miles Away

By Dina Abou Salem

Jun 11, 2014 3:50pm
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Alaska State Trooper Gordon Young talks to a stranded LaGrou stuck on the cliff side above Fox Creek. The National Geographic Channel

Shelly LaGrou was at home in Washington talking on the phone to her daughter in Alaska because her daughter  was uncomfortable hiking on a slippery mountain trail. The mom then heard a scream. And then crashing sounds. Then silence.

Her daughter, Cherelle LaGrou, 18, had fallen from a cliff off the Parks Highway near Denali National Park last Sunday.

That was when Shelly LaGrou began directing her daughter’s rescue from Omak, Wash., 2,250 away from the cliff where her daughter was trapped.

Cherelle LaGrou was working in a seasonal job at a lodge in Alaska when she decided to hike to a waterfall last Sunday.

“When I started going back down, I reached a sketchy area so I called my mom just to stay with her on the phone in case something bad happens,” Cherelle LaGrou told ABCNews.com.

At the edge of a cliff, Cherelle took a misstep.

“When Cherelle called me it was around 4:30 p.m. her time,” her mother told ABC News. “After 15 minutes on the phone, I heard a scream and a loud crumbling noise. After a moment of silence Cherelle started yelling and freaking out and became hysterical. I told my husband to grab the other phone and I called the lodge where she worked at. They called for rescue.”

Before the fall, Shelly LaGrou had advised her daughter to tuck her phone into her sports bra.

“If it wasn’t tucked in her sports bra we would have lost contact with her because it might have fallen out of her hands,” the mom said.

For the next 30 minutes, Shelly LaGrou comforted her daughter, got location directions from her daughter and directed rescue crews to the spot where Cherelle was clinging to the side of a cliff.

“I was trying to stay calm so I could calm her down. We were both praying so hard and I believe it was a miracle that she survived. Thanks to Lord’s grace she was saved and he gave her strength and kept her feet from sliding,” the mother said.

Alaska State Troopers told ABC News that LaGrou had slid about 30 feet before she was able to stop her fall at a rock ledge.

“A pair of troopers were able to climb to within 20 feet of LaGrou and affix ropes to her, to ensure she didn’t fall further. Eventually, a second pair of troopers arrived and were able to climb above LaGrou’s location and set a second sit of ropes, whereupon one trooper was able to climb down to her. Troopers were then able to lift LaGrou back up the mountain to safety,” Beth Ipsen, public information officer from the Alaska State Troopers, told ABC News.

LaGrou was not injured in the fall, said Ipsen.

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Alaska State Trooper Gordon Young gets a hug from LaGrou after he and three other Troopers rescued her from the mountainside above Fox Creek on June 8, 2014. The National Geographic Channel

 

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