Elizabeth Stiles Patterson, of Telluride, Colo., and Moab, had set up camp with two friends in the Malloy Park area at the north end of the mesa on Friday evening, May 31, officials with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Her friends told investigators that Patterson left camp to use the bathroom at approximately 1 a.m. and was not in camp when they awoke the next morning. They contacted the sheriff’s office at 6:44 a.m. on June 1, after finding some of Patterson’s belongings at the edge of the canyon rim overlooking Castle Valley, according to the news release.
Grand County Sheriff’s deputies and Grand County Search and Rescue personnel searched for Patterson and located her body at approximately 8:50 a.m., according to Grand County Sheriff Lt. Kim Neal. The body was transported to Spanish Valley Mortuary in Moab.
Investigators said Patterson fell approximately 70 feet and then “tumbled another 100 feet from the ledge where her belongings were found,” according to the news release. The campsite was located about 75 feet from the canyon rim, officials said.
Patterson is the daughter of Steve and Jenny Patterson of Telluride. They are part-owners of Eddie McStiff’s restaurant and former residents of Moab. The Pattersons and their two children – Elizabeth and Chas – moved to Telluride in 1998 when Elizabeth was 8 years old. Recently, Elizabeth had been living in Moab and working as a nanny, Steve Patterson said this week.
“She was effervescently happy,” he said. “Contagious. If you were in a bad mood, you couldn’t be when she was around.”
Jenny Patterson described her daughter as “a poet, an artist, a lover of unicorns and animals,” and said, ”she lit up a room and our lives.”
She said the family has been buoyed by the support of friends and relatives.
“The unbelievable outpour of love and compassion by so many is incredible, and means so much to us,” Jenny Patterson wrote in an email to friends. “No parent should ever outlive their child, it is a cruel trick of nature. Your show of love and understanding is met with gratitude.”
Patterson’s death is the fifth fatality to occur in the backcountry near Moab this year. On March 13, Zachary Taylor, 20, of Moab, died after falling approximately 120 feet while rappelling with friends at Teardrop Arch in the Pritchett Canyon area southwest of town. On March 24, Kyle Lee Stocking, 22, of West Jordan, died while attempting to rope-swing at Corona Arch, northwest of Moab. On May 5, Adam Jason Weber, 32, of Salt Lake City, died from injuries sustained in a 150-foot fall while rope-swinging and rappelling in Day Canyon, about seven miles west of U.S. 191 and the Gemini Bridges parking area. On May 7, Christina Elizabeth Allen, 19, from San Luis Obispo, Calif., died after falling approximately 20 feet while hiking with her family near Kane Creek in San Juan County.
A memorial service for Elizabeth Patterson will be held Sunday, June 9, at 10 a.m. at the top of the gondola in Telluride.