What was supposed to be a wonderful vacation turned tragic for a Florida woman. Colleen Burns, a 35-year-old Philadelphia native who worked as a regional marketing director for Yelp in Orlando, died Friday while she was hiking in the Grand Canyon. According to a report from the National Park Service, Burns plummeted 400 feet to her death after she accidentally stepped off the edge of the trail.
Burns, along with friends, was there to hike and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon, a river valley in the Colorado Plateau that attracts thousands of visitors every year thanks to its visually overwhelming size and its intricate, colorful landscape. While enjoying the impressive landscape, Burns proudly published on her Instagram account a picture in which she is sitting on the edge of Ooh Aah Point, a popular lookout where tourists gather to watch the sunrise.
The last photo that Burns took during her adventure is currently circulating around social media networks.”That view tho,” Burns wrote alongside the photo.
Nobody knew at the time that the above photo would be the last photo of her alive. A few hours after the photo was taken, the life of Colleen Burns ended in a very tragic way.
Burns and her friends were walking along the path of the trail when they came across another group of hikers. In order to let them pass, Burns stepped out of the way, and this was when disaster struck.
“She was stepping out of the way for another gentleman to kind of squeeze in, and unfortunately, Colleen kind of got tripped up on her own feet and fell backwards, fell into the canyon,” her friend Jessica Roman was quoted as telling local news station WESH. “That was the longest, strangest, craziest two seconds of my life,” she added. “Those last two seconds where everyone changed are so minute in comparison to all the memories I have with her.”
The body of the 35-year-old was discovered on the rocks by Grand Canyon National Park officials about 120 meters below the lookout site. Although the incident is still under further investigation, authorities have classified Burns’ death as an accident. An autopsy will be conducted by Arizona’s Coconino County medical examiner.
A spokesman for the coroner’s office confirmed to People that her death is considered an accident, and she died from “multiple blunt force injuries.”
Yelp officials were devastated to learn of Burns’ tragic death, and the company posted a photo of her on Twitter, writing, “There are no words.”
They also issued the following statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Colleen Burns, a cherished Yelp colleague and friend. Colleen launched the Yelp community in Orlando nearly seven years ago. Her passing represents a tremendous loss to our company, the communities she supported and the many friends she made while doing what she loved. We are heartbroken but thankful to have been positively shaped by her passion and joy for life.”
Several of her friends spoke to news outlets regarding her death, and Grammy-award nominated musician, Ryan Gary Raddon, wrote the below message on Facebook.
“Colleen showed up in my life before the tidal wave of support had hit. She had such an unmatched enthusiasm for life; the fire in her eyes and that crazy infectious smile. They were the whole story. Colleen was destined to be a star among us. She never wanted to be looked up to though — it was genuine kindness, and absolute nurturing of a community she grew, from a soul that only knew love.”
Judging by comments made to reporters by her friends, it is evident that Colleen Burns enjoyed her life until the last moment, even though it was much too short.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]