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Geoffrey Mcallister, Deseret News
Eric Perkins breaks down after learning Christina Traylor had been found dead on Monday in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — Christina Traylor was an outgoing, fun person who worked hard to overcome big hurdles and achieved great success in school, according to people who knew her.

Traylor, who had spent Sunday hiking and picnicking with friends in Big Cottonwood Canyon, was killed after falling 80 to 100 feet off a rocky ledge.

Monday, friends and family members mourned the 19-year-old Herriman resident and Jordan High School graduate.

Traylor's body was found off the Moss Ledge trail, between Solitude and the S-curve in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Searchers believe she was killed instantly.

Eric Perkins, reportedly Traylor's boyfriend, could be seen in tears outside the mobile command unit of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office as friends tried to console him after he received the grim news. Traylor's brother, who has guardianship over his sister, and other friends were also at the command post Monday morning.

Traylor was part of a group of four men and four women who were enjoying a day of hiking and picnicking in the canyon Sunday.

Between 6 and 7 p.m., the four men went to an area off the main trail to climb an area of steep rocks, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Brent Atkinson. Detectives believe unbeknownst to the men, Traylor followed the group to a steep area where it is believed she wanted to take pictures.

Detectives suspect Traylor may have slipped or lost her balance while taking pictures and fell without being noticed. When the men returned from their climb and couldn't find her, Traylor's friends searched the area for two hours before calling the sheriff's office.

At 9:50 p.m. Sunday, search and rescue crews were called to the mountain. A helicopter with a heat sensor assisted in the search but found nothing.

Search crews suspended their search at 2:30 a.m. Monday because of the safety risks. They resumed at daybreak and found Traylor's body about 9:15 a.m.

Family members and friends at the scene declined to speak to reporters. Traylor was studying to be a veterinarian at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She was back in Utah for summer break. She was a 2007 graduate of Jordan High School, Atkinson said.

Traylor received a $2,000 scholarship from the Jordan Education Foundation after graduating for overcoming great obstacles in achieving success.

Traylor's father lives in California, according to the sheriff's office. Her mother, according to a small bio written for the 2007 JEF awards ceremony, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

"Christina's home life has been difficult at best," the bio said.

Traylor and her siblings had lived in several states and attended more than a dozen schools by the time she graduated. She lived in foster care, motels and homeless shelters growing up.

Despite her vagabond upbringing, "She has never failed to impress her teachers," according to the bio. Traylor took advanced placement courses in high school and maintained a 3.9 GPA.

Although she was uncertain at the time how she was going to pay for college, the Jordan Education Foundation called Traylor a "gifted young lady who has overcome incredible obstacles. She is confident she will be a college graduate."

A person identified as "Tad" on the deseretnews.com comment board said he went to high school with Traylor.

"She was always kind, funny and the life of the party. She will be missed," he said.


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