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Hiker found dead in apparent fall at Red River Gorge was NKY native

Red River Gorge.jpg
Posted at 11:36 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 12:00:26-04

A hiker found dead after an apparent fall at Red River Gorge has been identified as a University of Kentucky medical student from Northern Kentucky, search and rescue officials confirmed to WCPO.

Gabriella "Gabby" Smith, 24 of Alexandria, was found by a Powell County Search and Rescue squad at the bottom of a 150-foot drop near the Auxier Ridge area.

Agency spokesperson Lt. Lisa Johnson said Smith was reported missing Monday after her family lost contact with her.

The search and rescue team was able to ping Smith's phone to get her last known GPS location before searching the Auxier Ridge area. The Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team and the Tri-Community Fire Volunteer Department also assisted with the search.

"We want to thank all the other agencies that helped on this call. The support was overwhelming," read the search and rescue agency's statement. "We also want to thank the numerous people/teams/groups from all over Kentucky and surrounding areas for the offers of help. We know the Red River Gorge has great teams working to keep you safe. It is also great to know that there are many people and teams willing to step up and help out if the need arises."

Earlier this week, another hiker fell 60 feet from a cliff's edge in the same area. The man survived the fall and was hospitalized, according to RedSTAR Wilderness EMS.

Johnson advises hikers at Red River Gorge stay a "body length" away from cliff edges, especially in the days after heavy rain as the wet ground could give way, and she advised against hiking alone.