Liberty University Comes to Terms with Fatal Fall

Faith Helbig

Nelson County, VA - The Nelson County Sheriff's Office says 18-year-old Faith Helbig was in a prohibited area at the top of the falls when she slipped on a rock and fell 200 feet to her death.

Investigators say Crabtree Falls can be dangerous. On average, two people die every year. The beautiful scenery can be distracting, and a clear algae grows on the rocks, making them slippery.

And now Liberty University is coming to terms with another death.

They call it the draw of the falls.

"It just lures people closer, to want to get a better view and want to get better photographs," said Investigator Billy Mays.

It was a picture that captured the last moments of the LU Freshman alive. She's standing next to a man in a red shirt at the top of the falls.

Faith Helbig had hiked about two miles when investigators say she slipped on a rock and fell 200 feet to her death.

Investigators say she had been hiking in a restricted area with five other Liberty University students.

At least one friend ran about a mile away to make the terrifying 9-1-1 call.

"She fell down the falls?" asked the Nelson County Dispatcher.

"She slid all the way down, she went and she bumped and she hit her back and she hit her head. We need an ambulance or a helicopter or something," said the friend, frantically.

Wintergreen's Rope Rescue Team pulled the 18-year-old's body off a boulder about four hours later.

Signs clearly warn of the dangers, the other two dozen lives that were lost here.

Bob Leverett and his wife have climbed to the top of Crabtree Falls twice.

"I'm always saddened by the idea of anybody comes to enjoy a great resource like this and then it ends in tragedy," Leverett said.

But, sometimes nature's greatest beauty demands the greatest respect.