Body of Missouri Woman Recovered from Virginia Creek in Glacier National Park

The body of a 62-year-old Missouri woman who fell into a cold, snowmelt-swollen creek in Glacier National Park on Friday has been recovered, according to park officials.

Elizabeth Gray McNamara, of Kansas City, Missouri, and her husband were crossing the Virginia Falls Trail Bridge on the St. Mary Lake Trail shortly after 1 p.m. Friday when she slipped and fell about 4 feet into the creek, park officials said.

This section of trail, located about a half-mile west of the head of St. Mary Lake, crosses Virginia Creek on a bridge roughly 30 feet long and a bit more than 2 feet wide, with a handrail on one side. After the woman fell into the water, which was estimated to be between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature, her husband and another park visitor ran along the bank but soon lost sight of the victim, park officials said.

On Saturday, a dive team working with Glacier rangers and the Flathead County search and rescue team found the woman's body about 220 yards downstream, trapped under water. Because of the swift water conditions, it took a couple of hours to remove the body from the water, park officials said.

Park superintendent Chas Cartwright expressed deep sympathy for the McNamara family, adding that this tragic loss serves as a reminder to anyone hiking near water to be extremely careful as bridges and rocks are often wet and slippery both from water as well as from algae and moss.

Water-related accidents are the No. 1 cause of death in Glacier National Park. The last drowning fatality was July 14, 2009, when a canoeist drowned in Swiftcurrent Lake.

Comments

My prayers are with the family. I am so sorry for your tragic loss.

My husband is haunted by memories of slipping and falling down on this same bridge almost exactly 2 years ago. The bridge would be much safer if there were rails on each side and if the bridge were made material that is not so slick because it is always wet.

I found a photo:

http://giltphoto.com/VirginiaFalls1w.htm

I could see how it would be possible to slip from this given it's just one rail on one side.

There are a lot of bridges that certain amounts of exposure. The bridge on Yosemite Creek above the precipice of Yosemite Falls has enough room under the lower bar for someone to slip through. I'd compare this to the top of Vernal Fall, where they've got a railing made of six steel pipes spaced closely enough that noone is likely to slip through. Some parts even get additional chain link.