Los Angeles News

Mark Keppel High School honors student who died hiking at Eaton Canyon

Monday, March 25, 2013

Students at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra will return to class Monday for the first time since a fellow student fell to her death during a hiking accident.

Esther Yieng Suen, 17, of Alhambra was hiking to the second waterfall in Eaton Canyon Park with three of her friends Friday when she and a male friend fell 200 feet.

Suen died at the scene from head trauma while the 18-year-old man was airlifted to a nearby hospital. He suffered a dislocated shoulder and a broken arm but is expected to survive.

A special memorial service for Suen's classmates and family members was held at Mark Keppel High School outside the auditorium. All sport events and practices were canceled on campus in honor of the service.

"It's going to be really tough not seeing her around in the hallways anymore," said one student.

The victim's untimely death is on the minds of Mark Keppel High School students. Her former classmates say the trail needs added safety measures.

"I think they should have someone patrolling the trail to make sure people are walking the right way and stay on the trail," student Emily Thach said.

Despite students' concerns, the Altadena sheriff's office said there are no plans to add any safety changes.

Los Angeles County park officials published a video last year warning hikers about the danger, saying there's no trail to the second waterfall.

Fire crews rushed to the trail Sunday to help another hiker who lost her footing, fell and possibly fractured her ankle.

Longtime park visitor Heyley Gripp says park officials removed a safety rope on the trail near where Suen fell.

"I'm just kind of upset that they took the rope down in general because, as an avid hiker, it's been up there for years and people rely on it," Gripp said. "They're trying to make it so-called safer but really it's not because yes there are people who are going to be reckless but it's just kind of a known thing."

A diver and avid hiker, Suen's friends and family described her as a remarkable young woman, a leader, a scholar and an athlete.

The victim's loved ones set up a makeshift memorial Monday near the site of her death.

Officials said grief counselors were on hand Monday to help students deal with the tragedy.

The school is also collecting donations to help both families involved.

"We're going to dedicate the last few months to her, especially me because she was a very close friend of mine," student Esequiel Jiminez said.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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