Newton County sheriff explains dangers of Hawksbill Crag after deadly fall

Published: Apr. 15, 2019 at 4:07 PM CDT
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Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said his office gets about five to 10 calls a year of people falling or getting hurt near Hawksbill Crag.

"They're not always fatal falls," Wheeler said. "But they're injuries in that area. When I'm talking about that area, I'm talking about Hawskbill Crag, or the trail into Hawksbill Crag, or that bluff line."

But the one on Saturday was deadly.

Wheeler said 20-year-old Andrea Norton of South Dakota died after she fell 100 feet off the crag.

"She was here with a group from her college, and the professor that led the group has been coming here for more than 20 years and bringing groups here," the sheriff said.

He reports Norton was moving from one area to another on Hawksbill Crag, when she slipped and fell.

This is the second fall reported at the popular destination this year.

"It's a beautiful beautiful area, but it's also kind of a treacherous area," he said.

Many people commented on social media and said they believe a fence should be placed around the crag. But the sheriff disagrees.

"It will only hamper our efforts and will take away from the natural and wild beauty of the place that people go to appreciate," Wheeler said.

He said his prayers are with Norton's family and is asking visitors to make sure to be careful when out in nature because it can take a while for crews to get down there.

"If you fall from the bluff, you're looking at a four-to-five hour rescue.It took 61 people almost five hours to get Ms. Norton out the other day," he said.

The sheriff asks anyone who visits the area to make sure to always park off the road so emergency vehicles can get through if something should happen.