Crime - Sacto 911

Teen slipped to her death while hiking to popular Tahoe attraction, deputies say

Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, near the Vikingsholm Trail, where a 14-year-old girl fell to her death.
Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, near the Vikingsholm Trail, where a 14-year-old girl fell to her death. Sacramento Bee file

The teen who died Wednesday while hiking near the Vikingsholm Trail in the Lake Tahoe area was on a family vacation when she fell 50 feet after slipping from a rocky outcropping.

The girl was identified as Chloe Conn, 14, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., by the El Dorado County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

The sheriff’s office received a report at 12:06 p.m. Wednesday. An off-duty law enforcement officer who was in the area came to the girl’s aid and began CPR before emergency personnel arrived.

After extensive lifesaving efforts were conducted at the scene, Conn, who suffered major injuries in the fall, was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, where she died.

Sheriff’s deputy Damian Frisby, the office’s search and rescue coordinator, said that the girl was with her mother, father and 17-year-old brother when the accident occurred.

“She got into a spot that gradually steepened,” Frisby said. “It became almost vertical. She lost her footing and fell about 50-plus feet.”

The fall occurred on an outcropping about 75 yards from a parking lot along Highway 89. From the parking lot, thousands of people every year take a safe, wide trail down the hill to the shore of Emerald Bay.

There, visitors tour Vikingsholm, a stone-and-timber mansion built by Lora Josephine Knight in 1929 at Emerald Bay, which reminded her of a Scandinavian fjord.

Visitors, like Conn, sometimes leave the main trail and walk to the boulder outcropping for the view.

“However, it does slope down to an almost vertical area,” Frisby said. “People get stuck in that area and we have to rescue them. We have had four rescues in the past couple of years right there.”

Conn had just completed eighth grade at Detroit Lakes Middle School, according to principal Mike Suckert, and was set to attend Detroit Lakes High School in the fall.

“She was a bubbly, friendly, just well-liked kid,” Suckert said. “Everyone who came in contact with her liked her.”

Conn was an “outstanding young lady” who actively participated in various school activities, such as recent musical production and math competitions, Suckert said.

Frisby cautioned visitors to the high country to be careful. Trails are slippery with snowmelt and waterfalls are roaring.

He said a hiker that ends up in a spot where it is too dangerous to go forward or back should simply stop.

“We will be happy to respond and help,” he said. “A lot of people get in above their heads. They get even more lost, or more likely swept away in the water or in more vertical areas where they lose their footing.”

And be aware: cell phone map apps used to explore the Sierra rapidly drain batteries.

“Using a map app may mean you won’t have power on your cell phone to call for help,” Frisby said.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews