Mother of 3 Falls 140 Feet Off Arizona Cliff While Hiking With Husband and Toddler

Jen Krausz
By Jen Krausz
April 19, 2024US News
Mother of 3 Falls 140 Feet Off Arizona Cliff While Hiking With Husband and Toddler
The Bear Mountain Trail in Sedona, Ariz., in April 2021. (Google Maps/Screenshot via NTD)

A California mother of three fell 140 feet to her death off a cliff in Sedona, Arizona on April 15 while hiking with her husband and their toddler, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

A Facebook post from the Sheriff’s Office stated that a group of hikers stopped after hearing yelling and, upon coming to the family’s aid, called 911. One of the group hiked down the embankment and found Zaynab Joseph, 40, seriously injured at the foot of Bear Mountain.

The hiker said Ms. Joseph was still breathing when they reached her, but that she died a short time later. Her husband and toddler were airlifted off the mountain, and rangers and volunteers recovered Ms. Joseph’s body. The family had been renting an Airbnb in Sedona for a vacation, the authorities said.

The sheriff’s office said it interviewed multiple hikers who were in the area as they came off the mountain, but that the investigation is still ongoing. There were no updates from the sheriff’s office on Thursday, but a spokesperson said more information will be shared as it becomes available.

Bear Mountain is rated as a “strenuous hike” by the U.S. Forest Service. One of the two trails consists of a 2.3 mile hike that rises 1,800 feet in elevation. It is “mostly unshaded, steep, and difficult in places,” according to a written description by the Forest Service. The difficulties include rocky switchbacks, narrow side canyons, and other challenging conditions.

There is another trail through the full canyon that has a 2,100-foot elevation change and is mostly “over tilted rock,” the Forest Service said. It was not clear which trail Ms. Joseph was hiking when she fell. Nothing has been ruled out regarding the cause of her fall, the Sheriff’s Office wrote.

According to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the town hosts some 3 million tourists each year. Outdoor activities are popular among the scenic red buttes and numerous hiking trails in the area. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office website lists at least four different search and rescue groups that can assist with situations in Sedona and the wider county like the one involving Ms. Joseph.

Hiking Safety

Safety guidelines developed by Arizona State Parks and Trails tend to emphasize staying safe in the state’s frequent high temperatures, including by ensuring adequate hydration, sun protection, and using the right equipment, such as hiking poles.

However, the importance of adequate preparation in terms of planning hiking routes before setting out is also stressed.

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