On Monday, September 30th, 2013 around 11am the Johnson family: Dwayne (father), Dawna (mother), Kiowa (daughter/older sister), Gracie (daughter/younger sister), Paris (nephew) and Baigen (nephew), went on a hike up the beautiful mountain trail leading to the Agnes Vaille Waterfall, but the hike ended in tragedy! A massive rock slide was triggered (likely due to the recent major temperature fluctuations) covering and trapping the whole family.
When rescue personnel arrived the ground was still so unstable only a few people were permitted to attempt to look for the lost. Deputy Nick Tolsma said in an interview that he could see no signs of those trapped under the boulders but at one point was able to hear the cries of someone nearby. When Deputy Tolsma located the area in which the cries were coming from he was then able to see a small hand reaching out from underneath a large boulder. After removing several rocks Deputy Tolsma was able to retrieve 13 year old Gracie Johnson. Gracie is alive due to the heroic efforts of her father (Dwayne) who jumped on top of her to protect her as a mountain side of rocks rolled down over the top of the two, burring them.
Gracie Johnson was transported via Flight for Life to Children’s Hospital in Aurora where she immediately under went surgery to stop all the internal bleeding and this morning (Tuesday, October 1st, 2013) she was taken back into surgery to begin the long process of rebuilding multiple fractures throughout the whole length of her body. Unfortunately the other family members hiking with Gracie were all found dead and due to the area still being very unstable the rescue teams have not yet retrieved the bodies (the location of all the bodies has been discovered).
The Johnson family played a large roll in athletics throughout the small community of Buena Vista, Co. Dwayne was a football coach for the Buena Vista School district and Dawna coaches track for the BV school district. Gracie is a member of the Chaffee County United competitive soccer team.
There are a few different ways to make a donation to the Johnson family.
Cornerstone Church of BV
P.O. Box 1752
Buena Vista, Co. 81211
Please click here to check out the obituary and for a link to the Runyan Mortuary site where you can post your own pictures and memories of the family.
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