Indiana Woman Dies After Falling From a Cliff at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest

An Indiana woman has died after falling from a cliff at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

Sara Rappee, an artist and jewelry designer from Evansville, Indiana, fell about 60 feet at around 6 p.m. on Saturday, Equality Fire Chief Cole Baker told the Evansville Courier & Press.

The 36-year-old died at around 3 a.m. on Sunday, the Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office confirmed. She suffered multiple blunt force trauma, the Courier & Press reported.

Baker said another hiker heard Rappee fall from the cliff overlooking Camel Rock and called 911. He said that someone had been hiking with Rappee but no one saw her fall.

Baker said Rappee fell from the cliff overlooking Camel Rock. Rescue personnel hiked into a ravine to get to Rappee and she was airlifted to an Evansville hospital. Newsweek has contacted the Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office for comment.

Rappee was a jewelry artist and helped organize the Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show in Evansville for many years.

She graduated from the University of Southern Indiana in 2005 with a degree in fine art. She discovered jewelry making after coming across the Evansville Lapidary Society five years later.

"I decided art was my passion and what I was good at, so even if I was going to be a starving artist, I would make my way through," she told Evansville Living magazine last year. "But it wasn't until after I graduated, way after I graduated, that I actually found the path I'm on now."

She also spoke of her love for jewelry designing in a 2015 feature in the Courier & Press about Sara Rappee and her mother Sue Rappee, who is also a jewelry artist. Rappee said she made the tough decision to study art over engineering at college.

"Jewelry wasn't really on the horizon then, and it wasn't until later when I started working with Lapidary Society that I started thinking about it again," Rappee said. "I had this big box of beautiful polished stones and needed a way to get them out to the world."

In a 2013 interview, she spoke of how she loved working with her mom. The two shared a metal studio at one point and did art and craft shows together. "It's really cool getting to work with your mom. She is my best friend and we work seamlessly together," she said.

Friends, family and members of the artistic community have paid tribute to Rappee, describing her as "a light in so many lives."

Linsey Patterson, who has been friends with Rappee since high school, described her as talented, artistic and charismatic.

She told the Courier & Press: "She was authentic—she presented herself in a way that said, 'This is me. Here I am.' She was magnetic, a force of nature in the best way possible."

Sara Rhoades, who went to USI with Rappee, bonded over being the only two women in a sculpture studio filled with men.

"This news is so hard. She was amazing; such a light to so many," Rhoades told the Courier & Press.

Others paid tribute on Facebook, with Mary Ann Miles writing: "She was a beautiful soul, a talented artist and a caring human being. Prayers for her family, friends and all who were blessed to know her."

Jessica McDaniel Bryant added: "I'm so saddened to hear of this news. Sara was such a sweet person, with such a kind heart, and she was so artistically talented. What a loss for our community."

Shawnee National Forest
Stock photo: A walking trail in the Shawnee National Forest. An Indiana woman has died after falling off a cliff at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest. Getty
Indiana Woman Dies After Falling From a Cliff at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest | U.S.
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK