A 14-year-old girl died Monday evening from injuries she received after a rockslide struck her family’s vehicle on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun-Road.
Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley describes the rockfall near the East Tunnel as "significant."
"So, the rocks were between fist-sized and about twelve inches in diameter. If you envision that, that’s a pretty big-sized rock. There was enough debris, the Park estimates, to fill the back of a pickup truck."
The rocks hit the top of the family’s car, shattering its rear windshield, critically injuring the girl. Her parents received significant bruising and two other children in the car suffered minor injuries.
An air ambulance responded to the scene but was unable to airlift the girl because of her unstable condition. The flight paramedics traveled with her in a ground ambulance to Kalispell, but she died on the way.
The family is from Utah. The girl’s name and hometown will be released once family notifications are complete.
This isn’t the first fatal rockslide in the park.
"The last fatal rockfall on the Going-to-the-Sun road was in 1996," says park spokeswoman Lauren Alley. "A rock came off the mountain in the Rimrocks area which is west of Logan Pass. The area is on the Continental Divide and rocks do come down fairly regularly from the mountains above."
The mountains above Going-to-the-Sun Road are very steep and Alley says precisely identifying where the slide originated would be extremely difficult.
Ally says the park, while safe for the vast majority of visitors, can sometimes be an unpredictable place where hazardous things can happen in an instant.
Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed at the East Tunnel for about three hours Monday night while crews cleared the scene.