Tragedy struck a family of five Monday after a rockslide hit their car in Glacier National Park, Mont., killing a 14-year-old girl who was a passenger.
The Utah-based family was driving on Montana’s scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road around 7 p.m. local time when the rockfall happened near the road’s east tunnel.
Debris hit the top of the vehicle, shattering the rear windshield and causing the young woman’s fatal injuries, according to NBC News.
The park said an air ambulance tried to transfer the girl to a hospital, but was unable to due to “her unstable condition.”
She was pronounced dead in an ambulance on the way to get medical treatment.
Pat Cummings, who was also on the road when the tragedy occurred, told CBS News that she witnessed it all.
“I could clearly hear a woman crying frantically, screaming, you know, ‘Please help her. Someone please just help her,'” she shared.
“If there had been more cars probably closer together, I do think it could have been worse,” she added.
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Some of the rocks were a foot in diameter, and enough debris fell to fill the bed of a pickup truck.
Park officials confirmed that the parents and siblings were injured as well, but added that it’s tough to prevent these kinds of rockfalls from happening.
“Whether it’s rain, whether it’s wind, you know, all of these things can cause rocks to fall,” Lauren Alley, a spokesperson for the park, explained. “But rockfall in this magnitude is very unusual.”
Approximately two million people drive the touristy 80-kilometre road every year; it saw its last deadly rockfall over two decades ago in 1996, when rocks struck a vehicle west of Logan Pass.
“It’s a little bit tough to inspect the mountain above the road,” Alley told CBS News. “Rocks are continually shedding as part of that geologic process.”
Glacier National Park released a statement about the tragedy shortly after it happened: “The park extends its deepest condolences to the girl’s family and thanks its partner emergency care providers for the significant response.”