The man said he was trailing behind Washer and did not see exactly what caused her to fall. He told investigators that he heard Washer scream and heard a rock fall, according to Cody. He tried to hike down to her, and then called authorities when he saw that she wasn’t moving.
National Park Service rangers responded shortly before 3 p.m., searched the area and found Washer. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter to airlift her, but Washer died before the helicopter arrived, officials said.
Family and friends did not respond to requests for interviews about Washer’s life. Washer’s acrylic paintings, shown on her Web site, were shown in local galleries. She had her first solo show when she was 18.
News of Washer’s death spread quickly Tuesday, and by mid-afternoon several friends had left memorial wishes on her MySpace page.
“We’llmiss you dearly … paint on Heaven’s Gate for us,” one friend wrote. Photos on the site show Washer hiking other Northern California trails.
Medical examiners will perform an autopsy on Washer today, but “we have strong reason to believe that she died from multiple blunt-force injuries,” said Coroner’s Office spokesman Jeff Sherman.