A safety officer with the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will visit the overlook at Crowders Mountain State Park where a 48-year-old woman fell to her death last weekend to determine if safety measures are needed.
“We have many, many miles of trails,” said Adrian O’Neal, chief of operations for the parks division. “We had about 15 million visitors in the past year and very few incidents. We’ll look at this area where this fall happened, try to access it as best we can and see if anything else needs to take place.”
Stephanie Anderson’s death Saturday was the 14th attributed to a fall at a state park over the past 10 years, not including suicides.
The only two deaths from falls in 2014 were also at Crowders: Gary Mims, 55, of Gastonia slipped while collecting trash in January 2014. Mark Byers, 53, of Shelby fell two months later while descending a rock face.
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Park Superintendent Larry Hyde noted that last year was the park’s busiest with 577,000 visitors. “We do have a lot of people who come here and have a good experience,” Hyde said. “Unfortunately sometimes something happens.”
Anderson, 48, had hiked with her husband and one of three daughters to The Pinnacle, the park’s highest peak at 1,705 feet. They were reportedly taking a family photograph when she tripped and fell 150 feet to her death.
Two signs along the Pinnacle Trail warn of hazards due to steep cliff faces that could result in death or injury.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Gastonia Fire Department spokesman Chris Stowe. “It’s one of the treasures of the area. But it’s also a mountain. There are certain parts of it that are very dangerous.”
‘A lady of great faith’
Anderson and her family were known for doing things together. She and her husband shared duties teaching the same third-grade Bible study class Sunday mornings at Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews.
“She was a lady of great faith, and she invested her life in service of the young,” Pastor Jay Hancock said. “This is a tragic situation, and I think anybody who hears about it will understand the depth of grief a family like this will face. We’re asking the community to hug their spouse and their kids and say a prayer for the Andersons.”
Anderson worked as a substitute teacher at Marvin Ridge Middle in Waxhaw, where her three daughters had attended. Principal Jay Jones described her as enthusiastic and highly regarded.
Facebook condolences describe Anderson as the type of person who “could light up a room.”
“She was truly one of the spunkiest most radiant Jesus loving leaders I have ever seen!” one friend wrote. Said another: “Her true Christian spirit was such an influence to me and others.”
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at Carmel Baptist Church. Her immediate family includes her husband, Scott; their daughters, Samantha Ann Anderson, Susanna Marie Anderson, and Savannah Marie Anderson; her parents, Charles and Mary Stone; and her brother, Charles Stone Jr.