Grand Canyon bride plunges 300 feet to her death

Yahoo!7 March 20, 2012, 12:55 pm

The husband of a woman who plunged 300 feet to her death in the Grand Canyon has spoken about the experience for the first time.

24-year-old Ioana Hociota fell to her death while preparing for a record breaking hike in the canyon last month.

Ms Hociota emigrated from Romania in 2002, and was introduced to the canyon by Andrew Holycross when she was 18.

The two fell in love with each other and with the Grand Canyon as they dated over the next six years, and could think of no better place to get married when they tied the knot.

In 2007, the couple married in a ceremony overlooking the world-famous valleys, before taking some of their wedding guests on a hike through the canyon.

Through their courtship Ms Hociota became a seasoned hiker, and was on her way to becoming the youngest person to ever hike from one end of the canyon to the other, when tragedy struck.

Ioana was on a separate, higher path to her hiking partner, Matthia Kawski, when Mr Kawski heard rocks fall from above him, followed by a cry from Ioana.

"It was very short almost like a bird's and I thought, there are no birds here," Mr Kawski told local news station KPBS.

"Then the blood froze in my veins. It was a few seconds later that I heard a dull thump. I ran back to the saddle calling for her. There was incredible silence," he recalled.

By the time Ioana was found, she had plunged 300 feet to her death.

Ioana's husband believes a loose rock is responsible for the fall, but says his wife was a competent hiker.

"It's tempting for people to think that a pretty, beautiful young woman of 24 might have been out there, you know, out of her element and out of her head," her husband Andrew Holycross told ABC, "and she absolutely was not."

Choking back tears, Andrew said his wife would remain a constant inspiration.

"This was a woman we all admired a lot, and, I'm so proud to have been her husband… She accomplished more in 24 years than a lot of people do in a lifetime and she lived fully," he said.

Mr Holycross has set up a scholarship in his wife's name at the University where she graduated with degrees in mathematics and biology.

He said the scholarship was available to other immigrants wishing to come to America with "Ioana sized dreams".