Tempe woman killed in fall at Grand Canyon

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE and GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. --  A 24-year-old Tempe woman is dead after falling off a cliff in the Grand Canyon over the weekend.

Park officials say Ioana Hociota fell 300 feet during a hike near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, in the Owl Eyes Canyon area 30 miles northwest of Grand Canyon Village.

Her husband says she and a friend were hiking, and when he went to pick them up at their arranged meeting place, the friend told him of the deadly fall.  Park officials say the death was accidental.

"This was a woman we all admired a lot," Andrew Holycross, Hociota's husband of less than a year, said. "I'm so proud of her."

Hociota's husband says she was carrying a satellite phone, but not using an established trail, which is typical for her.

"It's tempting for people to think a beautiful, young 24-year-old woman was out of her element out there and in over her head," Holycross said. She absolutely was not."

Holycross says his wife, an avid hiker,had backpacked 850 miles through the Grand Canyon and was on track to become the youngest person to hike the canyon from end to end.

"She accomplished more in 24 years than most do in a lifetime," Holycross said. "She lived fully."

Hociota's body was airlifted out of the canyon and flown to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office.

One of the world's most visited natural attractions in the world, the Grand Canyon attracts about 5 million tourists every year. Approximately  600 deaths have occurred there since the 1870s. More than 50 of those have been attributed to falls.