VERLOT, Wash. – An 11-year-old girl was killed and her mother was injured after they were hit by falling ice at the Big Four Ice Caves in Snohomish County Saturday afternoon.
"It was huge," said Marina Yagolnikova, a witness who was downhill from the incident when it happened just before 3 p.m. "I saw a piece of ice just fall down, and people were just screaming, 'Oh, there's people up there!'"
Snohomish County Deputy Glen Bergstrom described the falling "chunk of snow and ice" as at least the size of a pickup truck cab.
The victims were not inside the caves, but were sitting on a rock at a nearby snowfield, said Bergstrom, who said the incident appears to have been a "fluke."
Investigators said the family is from the Lake Stevens area. The mother, father, son and daughter were with two others on a day hiking trip.
The 11-year old girl was trapped, said Bergstrom, and while others went back down the trail to call 911, Yagolnikova said she and several others ran up to help.
"There were three guys, so they picked the little girl up," Yagolnikova said. "They were trying to carry her down, because they were afraid that another piece could fall down."
"She was coming in and out of consciousness. Sometimes she would hug the guy, sometimes she would just be out," Yagolnikova added. At some point, the girl went completely unconscious.
A forest service officer was the first official on scene. Firefighters, paramedics, and search and rescue teams eventually arrived as well.
Witnesses on scene, which included a registered nurse and emergency responders, attempted to resuscitate the girl with CPR for more than an hour, but at 4:18 p.m., she was pronounced dead, said investigators.
The mother was able to walk back down the trail on her own power, sustaining just scrapes and bruises.
A helicopter airlifted the little girl's body to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office for autopsy and identification.