By Yann Ranaivo
A Pocatello woman, who had residences in both Pocatello and St. George, Utah, was found dead Friday evening at Zion National Park in Utah.
Officials with the Southwest Utah park reported Tammy Grunig, 50, died after she fell approximately 1,000 feet from the narrow Angels Landing Trail. Police reported other hikers witnessed the fall and phoned 911.
After St. George police were notified of the accident at 2:10 p.m., park rangers were dispatched to Angels Landing, while a ground search and rescue team was mobilized. The trail was closed for a short period during the investigation, and Grunig’s body was found by 6:30 p.m.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service are investigating the accident to determine an exact cause.
“We probably won’t be done until next week,” said Deputy Rob Tersigni of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Grunig’s brother-in-law, Rick Grunig, who lives in Pocatello, said she mostly worked in audiology and speech pathology at Portneuf Medical Center. Grunig was also an affiliated clinical faculty member at Idaho State University and did work with Helping Hands Home Health, which is located at 1308 East Center St. in Pocatello.
Rick said Grunig was married to his brother, Michael, and he last saw the couple two weeks ago. He said Grunig and Michael both spent Thanksgiving in Las Vegas with his mother and younger brother, Danny, before returning to their home in St. George Friday.
Rick said Grunig grew up in Pocatello while Michael, who works for ON Semiconductor, moved to the Gate City during the mid-1970s.
Mentioning they had been married for nearly three decades, Rick said his brother and Grunig purchased the home in St. George about seven years ago.
“They were actually planning to retire in St. George,” Rick said.
He said Grunig went hiking shortly after she and Michael got home from Las Vegas Friday.
Rick doesn’t recall Grunig being an avid hiker but mentioned she had been recently serious about getting into shape. He said Grunig went on the hike alone, adding Michael had to run some errands and made plans to meet his wife at the park afterward.
“She talked about (hiking) to my mom during Thanksgiving,” Rick said. “She’s not a real big hiker, but she had been on Angels Landing before. She was basically trying to get herself fit again. She had dropped about 60 pounds, if not more. She was looking really good.”
Rick said Michael could not find Grunig upon returning to the park early Friday afternoon.
Rick said his brother then went to the park ranger’s station.
“He went back up to meet her, figuring she’d be back down,” Rick said. “Then he started to get a little worried. He kept getting a little more worried. Then about an hour and a half after he got there, he heard (from park rangers) that a woman had fallen to her death.”
Though the investigation of Grunig’s death is still pending, Rick believes she may have tripped while hiking the trail.
“There are places up there that have chains you can hold on to as you’re going up,” Rick said, “but in this particular area, there was nothing to hold on to. She was about three quarters of the way up to the top (of the trail).”
He said the family is awaiting the result of a toxicology report and expects Grunig’s body to be brought to Pocatello on Monday or Tuesday, at the earliest.
“It looks like (the funeral service) will be later in the week,” Rick said. “We have a lot of things to do right now.”