A college student studying environmental science fell about 100 feet to her death while hiking on a class trip to the Ozarks, officials said.
Andrea Norton, 20, was among a group of Briar Cliff University students who traveled to Hawksbill Crag in Arkansas’ Ozark National Forest on Sunday morning as part of a class activity, Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said.
Before Sunday’s baseball and softball games, we honored the life of Andrea Norton, a member of the WVB team who died tragically Saturday.
Thank you to everyone who has sent their prayers to the Briar Cliff community as we mourn the loss of a very special student-athlete. pic.twitter.com/idItOiFG5L
— Briar Cliff Athletics (@bcuchargers) April 15, 2019
Wheeler said 61 emergency personnel responded to the scene, and that Norton lost her footing before she fell approximately 100 feet.
Norton was originally from Hot Springs, South Dakota, and was a junior at Briar Cliff, which is in Sioux City, Iowa. The professor that led the group of students to the crag has been coming here for more than 20 years, Wheeler said.
Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the Briar Cliff Women’s Volleyball Team with the passing of Andrea Norton. pic.twitter.com/4qJfzykN1U
— Jimmie Volleyball (@UJVolleyball) April 15, 2019
Norton was a triple major in biology, environmental science and had petitioned the school for an associate degree in global studies, according to her obituary.
As part of her studies, she traveled to Arkansas, Costa Rica, and California, and was planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands next year, her obituary said.
A 20-year-old South Dakota woman died this morning after she fell off Hawksbill Crag in Newton County. The sheriff says Andrea Norton goes to school in Sioux City, Iowa. She was w/ other students. Witnesses say she repositioned herself for a photo when she fell. pic.twitter.com/D0fhOTO36G
— Stephanie Sharp (@stephmsharp) April 13, 2019
“Andrea developed a genuine love for the planet and devoted herself to making a major impact in the preservation,” the obituary reads. “Her light, courage, and drive is what drew people to her.”
“She inspired those who knew her to be the best version of themselves, helped them reach their own goals and had such compassion for everything,” the tribute states. “Her smile could light up a room and she brought joy to all around her.”
The university offered its condolences and praised Norton as a stellar student in a post on Facebook.
Our deepest condolences and prayers go to the family and friends of BCU student Andrea Norton. Andrea was a passionate…
“Andrea was a passionate environmental science major, exemplary student, and dedicated athlete. She lived BCU’s values in everything she did from the classroom to the court and everywhere she went,” the university said.
“Andrea made a tremendous impact on the BCU community and everyone she met and will be greatly missed.”
Norton was a member of Briar Cliff’s women’s volleyball team, wearing number 22.
We are saddened by the unexpected passing of our beloved teammate Andrea Norton. #22 on the court, #1 in our hearts. Thank you for the prayers, calls, texts and emails. As Dre would say: Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4 #BattleOn pic.twitter.com/PRRJa11Wfs
— Briar Cliff Women’s Volleyball (@Cliff_WVB) April 14, 2019
“We are saddened by the unexpected passing of our beloved teammate Andrea Norton. #22 on the court, #1 in our hearts,” the team said on Twitter.
Sheriff Wheeler said Norton’s death was a reminder of how dangerous these popular spots like Hawksbill Crag can be.
Black Hills Juniors family, Please keep your thoughts with the friends and family of our former club member, Andrea…
“Hawksbill Crag is a spectacular location that thousands of people visit and enjoy each year,” he said. “But one stumble or misstep is all it can take to turn a great day into a tragic one. I want everyone to enjoy our county but use extreme caution and respect how dangerous these places can be. I don’t want any other families going through what Andrea’s family is now facing.”
By Eric Levenson