FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Cherelle “Evie” LaGrou, 18, of Omak, was rescued from a cliff over which she fell Sunday near Denali National Park.
“This was the first time she went hiking alone,” said her mother, Shelly LaGrou. “She hikes several times a week with friends, but they were all at work. She wanted to go see some waterfalls.”
Cherelle LaGrou, who is working as a housekeeper at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge owned Princess Cruise Line, was hiking back from the falls on a different route when she got nervous due to poor footing, her mother said.
“She was on the phone before this happened to her,” Shelly LaGrou said. “We were on the phone together (about 15 minutes) when the ground went out from under her. “She was hysterical and did not know what happened. I calmed her down.”
Cherelle LaGrou ended up on a rock wall about 60 feet above Fox Creek. She was unable to climb up or down from there.
“I am not sure what she found to get a finger hold to stop herself in the slide,” Shelly LaGrou said. “She had her feet against the rock wall, which was a rock surface. It was rocky, icy down below.”
The girl’s father, Joe LaGrou, called the lodge, which in turn notified Alaska State Troopers.
The first trooper arrived about 15 minutes after being notified, but he could only get within about 20 feet of Cherelle LaGrou.
“She said she did not want to die,” said Shelly LaGrou, who prayed with her daughter.
About 30 minutes after the fall, as troopers were working on the rescue, the cellphone battery died.
Two troopers climbed a ridge and brought Cherelle LaGrou up from her perch.
The LaGrous’ daughter called about 45 minutes later to say she was rescued and safe, with only minor scrapes.
“You don’t know if you’re talking to your child for the last time,” Shelly LaGrou said. “It was a miracle.”
Cherelle LaGrou is a 2013 graduate of Omak High School.
National Geographic Channel was in the area filming the reality show “Alaska State Troopers,” which will air the rescue this fall.