Gracie Johnson, Colorado Rock Slide Survivor, Saved by Dad; Parents and Sister Died

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
October 1, 2013 Updated: October 1, 2013

13-year-old Gracie Johnson was saved by her her father in Colorodo during a rock slide, but her father and mother and sister died in the slide.

Dwayne and Dawna Johnson, and her 18-year-old sister, Kiowa-Rain Johnson died in the rock slide in Buena Vista, Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Tolsma said on Good Morning America on Tuesday.

Tolsma was one of the first to arrive on the scene after hiking in about a mile. 

“I heard a scream next to me. I saw a hand sticking out underneath the boulder,” Tolsma said of Gracie. “The true hero is her dad. She said her dad jumped on her to protect her at the last moment when the rocks were coming down. I think he saved her life.”

Some of the boulders that came down were the size of cars; the rockslide is being described as a “freak accident.”

Johnson is a student at McGinnis Middle School in Buena Vista, reported the Denver Post. She was taken to Children’s Hospital in Denver.

The sheriff’s department says the other victims were 10-year-old Baigen (BAY’-gun) Walker and 22-year-old Paris Walkup, both of Birch Tree, Mo. They were nephews of Dwayne and Dawna Johnson.

Chaffee County Undersheriff John Spezze told the Post that his office would ask the U.S. Forest Service to permanently close the Agnes Vaille Falls trail, which is listed on local trail maps as a popular, short family hike.

“From what we are hearing from the engineers, public safety dictates that we have to ask them to close that trailhead,” he said. “We need to address that issue and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.