Freak accident, heat exhaustion claim two lives in Garfield County

GARFIELD COUNTY – Two separate incidents in Garfield County last week resulted in the deaths of a 9-year-old girl who was caught in a freak accident and 56-year-old woman who succumbed to heat exhaustion while hiking.

Freak trampoline accident

Last week, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office reported that 9-year-old Oaklee Sidwell of Panguitch was killed after a strong gust of wind carried the trampoline she was sitting on approximately 150 feet. Sidwell sustained multiple injuries as a result of being thrown.

Oaklee Sidwell
Oaklee Sidwell

The incident occurred Aug. 13; Sidwell was transported to Garfield Memorial Hospital, then taken by Life Flight to Primary Childrens Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she died the morning of Aug. 14 as a result of her injuries.

Sidwell had been playing with other children on the trampoline. They had exited the trampoline and she sat down to put her shoes on when the wind caught and threw it.

According to a statement from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, the trampoline was correctly installed and anchored to the ground. It also had protective netting around it. All the correct precautions for user safety were in place.

This was a tragic accident,” the statement said. “The community is mourning her loss and our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

A benefit event in Sidwell’s memory will be held this Friday at the Ruby’s Inn Conference Center in Bryce Canyon City. A silent auction aiding the Sidwell family is scheduled for 5-6:30 p.m., followed by a rodeo at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the rodeo cost $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 4 to 12 and can be purchased at the Ruby’s Inn lobby or across the street at the gate where the rodeo will be held. Attendees are encouraged to bring camp chairs or use their truck tailgates for seats, as the stands will fill up fast.

Individuals wishing to donate items to the silent auction can bring them the night of the event.

Hiker succumbs to heat exhaustion

On Aug. 15, a husband and wife were hiking the Brimhall Double Bridge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park when the woman, later identified as 56-year-old Dorothy Gillespie, began experiencing medical problems.

Dorothy Gillespie
Dorothy Gillespie

Gillespie’s husband left her at the trail and drove to Boulder to help. When emergency crews located Gillespie, she was deceased and a recovery effort was made by Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and Glen Canyon Recreation Area personnel to transport her from the trail.

After preliminary investigation, heat exhaustion is believed to be the cause of death. Her body has been sent to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office for further investigation.

In a statement related to this incident, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said they would like to strongly remind people that hiking in the desert heat can be deadly. Prepare by bringing the adequate amount of water necessary to hike in extreme heat and be aware of over-exerting themselves.

Similar hiker deaths caused by heat exhaustion recently occurred at The Wave in Kane County.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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