The climber who died during a rockfall at Yosemite National Park was found to have jumped on top of his wife to save her from harm, a heartbreaking end for a trip that was meant to celebrate their first anniversary as a married couple.
Andrew and Lucy Foster were an active, outdoorsy couple who were excited to spend their first anniversary in the Yosemite Valley, where they were to stay for three months so they could indulge their love for climbing, the Times reported.
The couple were scoping out their ascent from a trail at the base of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-tall granite monolith popular among hikers and climbers, when an enormous sheet of granite broke free at around 1,800 feet above the valley floor. Witnesses claimed that the rockfall was about “the size of a 13-story apartment building.”
Andrew Foster was killed in the ensuing rockfall, which dropped an estimated 1,300 tons of rock onto the valley below, but Lucy Foster survived. Now, her family is crediting Andrew’s ultimate sacrifice for allowing his wife to survive the disaster.
“She said: ‘Andrew saved my life. He dived on top of me as soon as he could see what was going to happen. He saved my life,’” said aunt Gillian Stephens, recalling what her niece had told her in the aftermath of the rockfall.
To make matters even more tragic, Andrew’s 57-year-old mother was just declared cancer-free after a battle with breast cancer but was forced to travel to the United States to recover her son’s body, with Stephens saying that his loved ones are “absolutely devastated.”
Rockfalls are not uncommon inside of Yosemite National Park, but fatalities stemming from them are exceedingly rare: only 16 fatalities have been chalked up to rockfalls since park officials began keeping track in 1857.