SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Saline County Coroner and the Saline County Sheriff's Office are investigating after a 12-year-old girl died after falling at the Garden of the Gods.
Jenny Weiland, 12, of Ridgway died Tuesday evening after falling about 100 feet at the popular Garden of the Gods in the forest's Chimney Rock area.
According to the sheriff's office, the Saline County Central Dispatch received a 911 call of a fall at 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday.
Deputies say the 12-year-old Gallatin County girl was pronounced dead at the scene by the Saline County Coroner's Office.
Her obituary says she enjoyed singing at church, swimming, biking, playing, cooking with her grandpa and was interested in crosses.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Cox and Son Funeral Home in Ridgway, followed by burial in Westwood Cemetery in Shawneetown.
The sheriff's office, Saline County EMS and the Equality Fire Department responded to the Garden of the Gods main trail.
The sheriff's department said the accident is still under investigation by the coroner's office, sheriff's office and the U.S. Forest Service.
Garden of the Gods covers more than 3,000 acres of forest in southern Illinois' Shawnee National Forest.
Trails go on for miles and allow trail-goers get as close to the edge as they want for that breathtaking view.
But there’s a danger along the magnificent bluffs,which drop more than 100 feet down in some areas.
“I don’t mind going up on the high stuff but i’m going to stay away from the edge.”
Jim Runyon says garden of the gods is unlike many of the other trails he and his wife have explored.
As an experienced hiker, he says he enjoys the freedom the forest offers.
“You do want that kind of freedom to come and go and not have it completely locked down that board walks and rails put you up against,” he says.
Every park is different, Garden of the Gods cautions hikers but anyone can peek over the edge.
“There were a lot of people out there that were venturing on to rocks that looked like they were a little more treacherous,” says Mary Runyon. Jim's wife.
Which is just one reason why so many people return year after year.
Both agree, it’s a matter of knowing your surroundings and be cautious with every step.
“You will not get the vistas if you are not up on the rocks, if you put us behind fences, you will not get to see what you want to see,” he says.
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