Death at Hocking Hills State Park under investigation

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LOGAN, Ohio (AP) - UPDATE: 9/4/2019 1:25 PM

Hiker death graphic by MGN.

Investigators say they have found evidence a falling section of a tree that killed a woman at an Ohio state park wasn't ``a natural occurrence.''

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said it is investigating whether someone from above dislodged the piece of the tree that hit 44-year-old Victoria Schafer of Chillicothe on stairs near Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park.

The ODNR has not disclosed what evidence indicates the tree piece didn't fall naturally. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Hocking County Sheriff's Office are helping with the investigation.

The Chillicothe woman died at the scene Monday.

It's the third death at the park this summer. The body of a 55-year-old woman was recovered from Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve in June, and a 22-year-old hiker died after falling from a cliff in August.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call 614-799-9538


A 44-year-old woman died Monday after she was hit by a falling tree branch while visiting Hocking Hills State Park, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

Victoria Schafer of Chillicothe is the third person to die at the park this summer and the second in two weeks on the trails near Old Man's Cave.

A 22-year-old hiker died on Aug. 24 after apparently losing his footing and falling about 75 feet from a cliff.

In June, the body of a 55-year-old woman was recovered from a remote part of the park's Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve. The ODNR did not disclose then how she died.


An Ohio man has died in a fall off the edge of a cliff in Hocking Hills State Park, authorities said.

Alexander Colson, 22, was hiking Saturday on an overlook trail at Old Man's Cave in the park near Logan, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.

Witnesses told authorities the Franklin County man was on the trail with his back to the cliff's edge when he took a step backward and lost his footing, falling about 75 feet.

ODNR spokeswoman Maureen Kocot said he was pronounced dead after he was flown to a Columbus hospital.

ODNR said park visitors should stay on the trails, wear appropriate footwear and pay close attention to where they are walking.