Hiker drowns after slipping into rapid waters at Glacier National Park

A hiker drowned Sunday at Glacier National Park in Montana after slipping into fast-moving water, being swept over several small waterfalls, and getting pinned underwater for several minutes, according to officials.

The woman, identified as 26-year-old Gillian Tones, was visiting the park from Pennsylvania, the National Park Service said in a news release Tuesday.

Tones diverted from a hiking trail near St. Mary Falls late Sunday and walked down to Virginia Creek, according to Gina Icenoggle, public information officer for Glacier National Park.

Witnesses told park officials that Tones slipped on slick rocks along the embankment before falling into the creek, which boasts forceful water flow this time of year due to snow melt, Icenoggle told CNN.

“Tones was quickly swept up by the cold, fast-moving water and went over a series of smaller waterfalls,” the park service said. She was pinned underwater by a log for several minutes until fellow park visitors pulled her out, the park service added, thanking bystanders for their “heroic efforts.”

Park rangers arrived on the scene around 5:45 p.m. local time after receiving multiple 911 calls about 25 minutes prior, the park service said. A rescue helicopter landed nearby at about 6:20 p.m.

Despite the efforts of bystanders, park rangers and first responders, Tones never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at about 7 p.m., officials said.

Drowning is the number one cause of death at Glacier National Park, Icenoggle said, adding that many visitors are taken by the beauty of nearby rivers and waterfalls.

Visitors “can’t help but get near them,” she said. “But they can be extremely dangerous.”

A GoFundMe page set up by Tones’ family and friends to cover funeral costs and her transfer back home describes her as a bright light in the lives of everyone who knew her.

“Though her time with us was far too short, the impact of her life on those she shared it with will be long remembered,” the page said.

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