Teen who died in hiking accident in Moab remembers as a loving, caring friend and mentor

Moab, UT • Tragedy struck in southern Utah on Friday when a young girl fell while hiking. The community tries to pick up the pieces, and loved ones remember who she was and honor her memory.

Zoe McKinney died Friday after falling off a cliff while hiking in Moab.

“She was tiny, but she was powerful,” said Marcy Mason.

“She was trying to be a model,” added Marcy’s daughter Iryss, a close friend and teammate of Zoe’s.

Zoe was a 17 year old who was loved and full of life.

“[She was] someone the girls really looked up to. She was in high school and she just had so much ambition and big plans ahead of her,” said Rebecca Monceaux, whose daughter Avery Orton was on the Grand County High School cheer team with Zoe and a good friend. “All of the girls on her team and all of her friends in high school really looked up to her as someone they could one day become.”

“She’s been supporting us the whole time,” Avery added.

Rebecca called her a “very loving friend — unconditionally loving friend.”

The Moab City Police Department said around 4 p.m. Zoe was hiking with friends on the Moab Rim Trail in the Kane Creek Canyon area when she slipped and fell about 30 feet down a “steep rock face.”

Her friends called 911 while trying to find a way to get safely to where she landed, but they couldn’t. A search and rescue team rappeled down using climbing gear to where they found the teenage girl, who had died from her injuries.

Rescuers were able to recover her body after a two-hour process.

“It’s been a whole final night of tears to this day, I’m just trying to process it all… It’s a really hard loss for these girls,” Rebecca said. “She was like our team mom.”

“[Zoe] was there for everyone on the team and talked to us all the time, so we were just really close with everyone — especially her,” Avery said.

“She just had a big heart and her boyfriend Lloyd was her whole world. She had big plans for him and made sure all the girls knew about it and had plans for a big wedding to invite all the cheerleaders to be there,” Marcy said. “She took a lot of freshmen under her wing and kind of helped them navigate what high school would be like.”

Iryss was one of those freshmen, and she said she was going to miss Zoe.

“She was working towards getting her EMT license because that was all she wanted to do was help people,” Iryss said.

Zoe’s friends say she’s always tried to make a difference. But now she will not experience everything she dreamed of.

“She showed me her prom dress. It was really cute and it was red and it was changed,” Iryss said.

They hope people can live like Zoe.

“Be nice to each other,” Rebecca said.

“Remember tomorrow is never a promise,” Marcy said, with Avery adding, “And to be strong in all your difficult times.”

“I’ll wear her mascara every day,” Iryss said with a smile.

“The school community mourns with Zoe’s family and will offer love and support wherever we can, including the availability of therapists on Mondays at school.”

A statement from the Grand County School District says therapists will be available at the school Monday. Anyone in the community who needs someone over the weekend can also call the Four Corners Community Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline at 435-260-2919.

“Zoe was a remarkable student and we will honor her memory for the remainder of this senior year,” the district statement said.

Moab City Police Chief Jared Garcia offered his condolences Friday as the department announced the tragic news.

“We recognize the devastating impact the loss of a beloved young wife and friend is having in this small community, but we know that wonderful people in Moab will join forces to support and comfort their family and friends during this time ‘ Garcia wrote.

A GoFundMe was founded to help her family. T shirts are too to be sold online which read “GCHS STRONG” with Zoe’s name on a ribbon. Organizers say the proceeds will go to Zoe’s family, and they also hope it will bring the community together.

This article is published by the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of Utah news organizations dedicated to educating readers across the state.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/02/12/teen-who-died-moab-hiking-accident/ Teen who died in hiking accident in Moab remembers as a loving, caring friend and mentor

Justin Scaccy

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