In order to protect his teenage daughter from a deadly rock slide, a Colorado dad threw his body into the oncoming boulders and sacrificed his own life, TODAY reported.
Five hikers were killed while hiking on a popular trail in south-central Colorado on Monday morning, according to the Associated Press, but 13-year-old Gracie Johnson made it out with a broken leg and a few other injuries thanks to her father’s selflessness.
“I’m glad she survived,’’ Chaffee County sheriff deputy Nick Tolsma told TODAY. “Her dad is a real hero, saved her life.”
The heavy boulders unexpectedly cascaded down the Agnes Vaille Falls on Monday morning at around 11 a.m., rolling over and killing the five victims, according to the Denver Post.
According to Chaffee County Undersheriff John Spezze and Chaffee County Sheriff Pete Palmer, the area’s recent rains may have loosened the large boulders and the rocks were then released from a cliff shelf above the falls.
The slide left behind a gash the size of a football field below Mount Princeton -- a 14,197-foot peak, according to the Associated Press.
"There are rocks in there the engineers estimate are 100 tons," Spezze told the Post. "I've never seen something like this."
Gracie’s football coach dad, Dwayne -- who used his body to shield his daughter -- was killed in the slide along with the teen’s mom, Dawna, a track coach at Buena Vista High School. The names of the other victims have not been released.
Dozens of students held a vigil at Buena Vista in Gracie’s honor on Monday evening where counselors and community members were on hand to comfort the teens, according to the Mountain Mail.
“We know that the community pulls together,” Principal Brian Yates told the paper. “People like to support each other in a small community. That’s one of the best parts of a small community.”