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Woman dies after pushing fellow ice climber to safety in Utah, "which probably saved her life," authorities say

An ice climber was found dead this week in Utah after she had attempted to climb a frozen waterfall alongside a group that included two other climbers, authorities said. The woman was able to push a fellow climber to safety before she was crushed by an enormous ice column that detached from the terrain above, the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday in a news release.

The office identified the climber who was killed as a 41-year-old woman but did not release her name.

She was one of three climbers who tried to ascend Raven Falls, a towering waterfall near Utah's Indian Canyon. The area appeared frozen and snow-covered in pictures that the county sheriff posted online with its release announcing the deadly incident. 

A massive ice column detached from the land above Raven Falls in northeastern Utah on Sunday, killing one ice climber and seriously injuring another. Duchesne County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

As the group worked their way up the waterfall on Sunday, the sheriff's office said it "received information of an ice column falling," which ultimately killed the 41-year-old woman and severely injured a 34-year-old man who was climbing with her.

The third climber, who the sheriff's office identified as a 21-year-old woman, survived the incident after the older woman pushed her out of the way, authorities said. The county sheriff noted that this gesture "probably saved her life."

It may have saved the 34-year-old man, too. After she successfully dodged the collapsing ice structure, the 21-year-old woman was able to climb back down Raven Falls and drive to Duchesne City, where she contacted 911, according to the sheriff's office. 

Raven Falls, near Utah's Indian Canyon, is pictured frozen and covered in snow. Duchesne County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

Authorities then dispatched rescue teams and emergency medical personnel to the site of the fallen ice column and transported the male climber to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries that the Duchesne County Sheriff described as serious. 

The man had fallen approximately 40 feet from a spot along Raven Falls to the ground below "when the ice column fractured upon impact," the sheriff's office said. His condition was unknown.

"Unfortunately, the climber that pushed her fellow climber out of the way of the falling ice was trapped underneath two huge blocks of ice and did not survive," the sheriff's office said. 

A 34-year-old man was airlifted from Raven Falls with serious injuries on Sunday. Duchesne County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

The 41-year-old climber's body was recovered after a joint effort that involved county search and rescue teams, EMS, volunteers with the local fire department and volunteer ice climbers, "who worked such long hours and gave everything they had," the sheriff's office said.

"Our sincere condolences to all affected by this tragedy, to the family of this brave, courageous woman who lost her life while saving another," the sheriff said. "We hope that all may find comfort and all the warm support will prevail over your hearts while mourning the loss of your loved one."

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