Oregon State University Student, 21, Falls to Her Death After Crossing Retaining Wall to Take Photo

Michelle Casey "loved being outdoors and was at the beach — her favorite place — on Sunday" when she died, her family said

Michelle Casey
Photo: Facebook

A sophomore at Oregon State University died over the weekend, after climbing a retaining wall along the Oregon Coast to take a picture and falling nearly 100 feet.

Michelle Casey, 21, was with her boyfriend at the Neahkahnie Mountain scenic coastal viewpoint along Highway 101 around 10:16 a.m. local time on Sunday when she slipped and fell from the cliff, according to a press release from the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office. She landed on a tree, which prevented her from plummeting into the Pacific Ocean.

Authorities said deputies from the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Nehalem Fire and Rescue, an ambulance from Adventist Health, a Life Flight Helicopter, and Cannon Beach’s High Angle Rescue Team all responded on the scene to help.

Unconscious but breathing, Casey was transported at approximately 12:02 p.m. local time to Emanuel Hospital in Portland with “life-threatening injuries,” where she later died.

Her family, in a statement obtained by NBC affiliate KGW8, described her as a person who “always brought people together with her bubbly personality and loving, giving heart.”

She was “born in joy on Christmas Eve, 1997” and “was a gift to her family” from that moment on. “She adored her family, cats and dogs. She loved being outdoors and was at the beach — her favorite place — on Sunday. Always active, she held a second-degree black belt in Tae kwon do, played volleyball and beach volleyball, and loved to work out. She loved singing in choir.”

Casey worked as a Starbucks barista in both Portland and Corvallis, her family said, and “loved her customers.” She was studying for a degree in kinesiology at OSCU, “because she wanted to help people.”

That carried over even in death. “Michelle had chosen to be an organ donor, a decision that saved two lives,” they said.

Casey’s family told CBS affiliate KOIN6 that donations in Michelle’s honor can be made to Born Again Pit Bull Rescue, Cat Adoption Team, Clackamas Dogs Foundation, Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis.

This is just one of a string of deaths recently related to falls involving photo-takers.

Many have been at the Grand Canyon, including a man from Macau, China, in his late 50s who fell 1,000 feet to his death while taking photos at one of its popular sites in March.

Back in April — weeks before graduation — Fordham University senior Sydney Paige Monfries, 22, died in a fall while participating in a forbidden early morning climb to the top of the Keating Clock tower on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, where she was said to have been trying to snap photos of the New York City skyline under the moonlight.

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