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Woman falls to her death from 140-foot cliff in Arizona while hiking with husband and 1-year-old child

A woman fell to her death from a 140-foot cliff this week while hiking with her husband and young child on a mountain in the Arizona desert, authorities said. 

Zaynab Joseph, 40, died on Monday after a group of hikers found her during their trek along Bear Mountain in Sedona, a desert city near Flagstaff and popular hub for tourism, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office announced on social media. Joseph had already fallen down the cliff when the hikers heard yelling and subsequently discovered her alive, with serious injuries. 

One person called 911 while another walked down the embankment and confirmed that Joseph was still breathing. She died soon after that, the sheriff's office said, noting that Sedona Fire officials pronounced her dead as they were the first responding unit to arrive at the scene. The sheriff sent search and rescue teams to the site to recover Joseph's body, which they did successfully with help from the state's Department of Public Safety. 

Zaynab Joseph died after falling 140 feet during a hike in Sedona, Arizona, authorities said. Courtesy of the Joseph Family (via Yavapai County Sheriff's Office)

Joseph was hiking on Bear Mountain with her husband and 1-year-old child, the sheriff's office said. The three had traveled from their home in California to Sedona, where they were renting an Airbnb. Her husband and child were airlifted from the mountain as authorities worked to recovery the body. The sheriff did not say anyone else was hurt.

The circumstances around Joseph's death and exactly what caused it are under investigation. Officers conducted interviews with hikers leaving Bear Mountain in the wake of Joseph's death and asked anyone else who may have witnessed the incident to contact the sheriff. 

Around 3 million tourists flock to Sedona every year, according to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. Many are drawn to the area's scenic outdoor activities, as Sedona is surrounded by pine forests and trails along its outskirts wind through enormous red rock buttes and canyons. The hike to the top of Bear Mountain is considered strenuous, as it is "mostly unshaded, steep, and difficult in places," the U.S. Forest Services writes in a description of that trail and another than takes participants on a longer journey through the surrounding canyon.  

The trail to the top of Bear Mountain is slightly shorter than two and a half miles, but jumps over 1,800 feet in elevation while requiring hikers to navigate rocky switchbacks — paths that trace a zig-zag pattern — narrow side canyons and other challenging conditions. The other trail through the full canyon has a 2,100-foot elevation change, on a path that is mostly "over tilted rock," the Forest Service says. 

Which trail Joseph and her family were hiking was unclear. CBS News contacted the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office for more information but did not receive an immediate response. 

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