Gabriella 'Gabby' Smith

Gabriella 'Gabby' Smith 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Be careful at Red River Gorge. That's the warning from rescuers after two people fell from cliffs on the same day. 

One of those hikers, a UK student, died. Authorities say Gabby Smith, a 24-year-old University of Kentucky medical student went hiking at Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky on Monday. Smith was found at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff in the gorge's Auxier Ridge, according to a statement from Powell County Search and Rescue.

Lt. Lisa Johnson, a spokeswoman for the agency, says Smith was a native of Alexandria, Kentucky, and a medical student at the University of Kentucky. Johnson says Smith went hiking at the gorge on Monday in an effort to break in a new pair of hiking boots and get in shape for a future hiking trip with friends.

Johnson says Smith had a selfie stick and her last pictures were not of her, but of the scenery at the gorge. The search and rescue group believes she just got too close to the edge taking pictures and fell.

Her family reported her missing Tuesday morning and that afternoon, her body was found.

Rescue teams, including Powell County Search & Rescue, the Wolfe County Search & Rescue Team and the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department, scrambled on Tuesday to find Smith after she was reported missing.

"We want to thank all the other agencies that helped on this call," Powell County Search & Rescue said in a statement. "The support was overwhelming. We also want to thank the numerous people/teams/groups from all over Kentucky and surrounding areas for the offers of help. We know the Red River Gorge has great teams working to keep you safe. It is also great to know that there are many people and teams willing to step up and help out if the need arises."

Johnson says, "Never hike alone. We knew where her car was at because she did text friends and people pictures. We knew where she was at. I think about it now, carry a whistle."

Monday night, another hiker was camping and fell near the same area. There are pictures of his rescue. Johnson says the man walked into the woods to drain a can of tuna fish and didn't realize he was on the edge of a cliff. He stepped into some mud and slipped and fell from the cliff. He's now at UK Hospital.

Lt. Johnson is urging hikers who come to the gorge to do so safely and to stay clear from the edge of cliffs.

"You have to remember, you're human," she said. "The gorge is not a walk in the park."

She says they should stay several feet back from the edge, because the ground is wet right now and the edge can give way. She said in the summer, when it's dry, it will crumble.

"Enjoy it. Love it. Just do it safely."

She says there are a lot of falls each year. She says, "Last summer, we did really well, not a lot. But I'd say the summer before that, we had a lot, like 68 in the summer and we have them in the winter too. People go out in the middle of the night and go walking and we carry them down too."

When hiking, Johnson also reminds people to make sure to pack a poncho, fruit for hydration and a whistle that rescuers can hear better than screaming.


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