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Trail closed after woman walking her dogs killed when she plunges off 15-foot cliff

The City of Roswell has closed down an unauthorized walking trail at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area after a woman and her dogs slipped and fell from a cliff in the area. The woman was killed.

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The incident happened on April 18 on a trail along Vickery Creek that leads to an “impassible” section of cliffs and a waterfall. The trail is a popular shortcut for hikers, but it was not authorized by the park service.

Workers believe someone helped topple several trees, making it hard to get around.

Rescuers found the woman’s dogs with her body. She’s been identified as 46-year-old Patricia Swartz.

“What we think happened is, she got tangled up with her dogs and couldn’t get past a pretty narrow section of it,” Fisher said. “And (she) ended up falling and hitting her head and falling into the water.”

According to her obituary, Swartz worked as a horticulturist at Scottsdale Farms Nursery, where she could take her dogs to work with her and was walking home with them when she fell.

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Chief Ranger Jeston Fisher estimated that Swartz fell 15 to 20 feet.

Fisher said that officials decided to close the trail after a meeting with the City of Roswell and Georgia Government Fire and Rescue.

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“The Park worked closely with Roswell to identify access for emergency response and close trail sections to prevent future incidents,” Fisher said.

Fisher said one of the biggest dangers of unauthorized trails is that there are no maps of those.

“So when there’s an emergency, you’re telling first responders where you are based on nothing,” Fisher said.

Channel 2′s Bryan Mims talked to hiker Amy Striejewske, who also enjoys walking her two dogs along the Vickery Creek Trail. She used to veer off the official trail and onto the unauthorized path.

Striejewske said she thought it was an authorized trail.

“I’m astonished,” Striejewske said of Swartz’s death. “It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced hiker or not.”

Officials are asking everyone to stay on marked trails when in the CRNRA and avoid closed areas.

The Park Service is now covering unauthorized trails with natural debris to keep everyone out.

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