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Lander college student dies in hiking accident

May 15, 2013 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

A Wyoming Catholic College student returning home to California with family died last week during an evening hike in Utah.

"People are sad," Matthew Brasmer, WCC vice president for instructional advancement, said May 8. "We had an impromptu prayer service this morning."

Brasmer said the college was notified early May 8 that Christine Elizabeth Allen died May 7 while hiking with her family near Kane Creek Campground in San Juan County in southeastern Utah. He said her body was recovered.

Allen was with her parents and returning home to San Luis Obispo, Calif., after wrapping up her freshman year at the Lander-based school.

"The last time I saw Christine and her mom and dad was Saturday at graduation," Brasmer said. "I presume they left on Sunday."

According to published reports, Allen was exploring the area around 8 p.m. May 7 and climbed up and sat on a rock, measuring 15 feet in diameter, to look at the view. The rock's face broke away, causing the teen to fall and have rocks fall on top of her. Allen reportedly died shortly after the fall. She was 19 years old.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy," WCC president the Rev. Robert Cook said in a news release. "We do not know all of the details at this point, but we are working to find out all that we can."

Cook said the college's chaplain is in Utah and is providing immediate support to the Allen family.

"Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with the Allen family, and we ask you to keep them in your prayers," Cook said.

Mass was held for Allen and her family May 8 at the Holy Rosary Catholic Parish in Lander. Allen's older sister is also a student at the college and will begin her senior year in the fall, said WCC academic dean and theology professor Jeremy Holmes.

Holmes taught Allen in the fall semester. With a student body of 117, he said everyone knew everyone.

"Christine was a soft spoken person, very thoughtful," Holmes said.

He recalled the teen's experience with horses and how she shined in the equestrian classes.

"She was a leader in horsemanship in the freshman class," Holmes said. "She was a very graceful, gentle person that everyone loved a great deal. It was impossible not to love her. You never think about this happening to a caring, sweet student like her."

Holmes said Allen wrote about values and the meaning of suffering in her last theology paper for the year.

"I find that a remarkable coincidence," he said.

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