13-year-old boy falls to death climbing in Utah state park, may have been trying to 'free solo'

A 13-year-old boy from Iowa falls to his death climbing in Utah

March 18, 2019, 4:13 PM

A 13-year-old boy was climbing in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, when he fell to his death.

Elijah Baldwin of Farragut, Iowa, who was identified on Monday by Utah State Parks, was visiting the park with his mother and two younger siblings, Regan Wilson, lieutenant with Utah State Parks, told ABC News.

He was climbing south of Pioneer Names, a popular hiking and climbing area, on Sunday around 4:15 p.m. when he fell.

The family had been hiking together, Wilson said, and Baldwin's mother and younger siblings stayed on the trail while Elijah would occasionally venture off to hike and climb.

According to Wilson, the family was trying to stay in view of each other, but Elijah went ahead and eventually got separated from his family.

"They could hear him yelling, saying that he needed some help," Wilson said.

His mother had the two younger siblings stay where the 13-year-old was last seen while she went to the south entrance station of the park to get help.

PHOTO: Officials work to retrieve a fallen hiker in Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.
Officials work to retrieve a fallen hiker in Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.
Courtesy Utah State Parks

Wilson said the area where the boy was found features many climbing routes of varying difficulties. Some are situated on rolling hills, while others are on steep cliffs that often require ropes for climbers.

"This 13-year-old was in a more advanced area, I would guess," Wilson said.

"He did make it to the top," Wilson said, but, "on the way down, I think, is where the difficulty came."

Baldwin is estimated to have fallen 75 to 100 feet as he climbed down. He was pronounced dead at the scene on Sunday.

Search and Rescue's High Angle search team, which is "more advanced" and use ropes, harnesses and safety equipment, per Wilson, had to be called in to recover the boy's body because of the difficult terrain.

Elijah was found without rope, a harness, a helmet or climbing shoes, and it is believed he may have been attempting to "free solo," wherein a person climbs without equipment or a partner.

According to Wilson, the family said the Elijah loved to climb and that they had plans to do so in Zion National Park this week.

Utah State Parks expressed their condolences to the family in a press release stating, "Our sympathy’s go out to his family at this very difficult time. Utah State Parks encourages visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy the wonderful natural environment present in our parks. We also encourage them to take necessary precautions and to be familiar with their surroundings to help ensure a safe and enjoyable outing."