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Rock slide kills 11-year-old girl, injures 3 others

An 11-year-old girl was killed and three others were injured when a rock slide triggered by heavy rain sent boulders crashing down along a popular trail near a waterfall in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Taylor Vejar was hiking the Big Falls Trail with a group of friends from Rancho Cucamonga when a medium-sized boulder struck her head and knocked her down about 12:10 p.m. Monday, said Tracey Martinez, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Firefighters hiked to the waterfall and found the girl unconscious but still breathing. She was pronounced dead at 1:16 p.m., coroner's officials said.

A boulder from the rock slide struck a teenage boy in the group, sending him to the hospital with a broken right foot.

Two other hikers in another group also were injured and taken to the hospital, coroner's officials said.

Big Falls, near the community of Forest Falls, is one of Southern California's tallest waterfalls, but is known for slippery, loose terrain prone to rock slides and flash floods.

Heavy rain fell in the area Sunday evening and Monday morning, Martinez said. It's likely most hikers who set out for the waterfall on Labor Day were unaware of the hazardous conditions the rain had created.

"There's a lot of loose gravel and rocks in that area, so I'm sure that loosened the ground, and this is just an unfortunate tragedy," she said.

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--Tony Barboza

 
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