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Official: Teen's death at shut-ins proves danger of bluffs

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Posted at 3:14 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 16:14:57-04

CENTERVILLE, Mo. — The weekend death of a Kansas City teenager at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park highlights the dangers of the towering bluffs at the popular southeast Missouri attraction, officials said.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that 18-year-old Mariah Brielle "Elle" Schramm died of an apparent head injury Saturday afternoon after slipping atop the rocky bluffs and falling into the Black River.

People frequently ignore trespassing signs at the spot to gain access to the bluffs and jump into the river, said Col. Tom Dresner, chief ranger with the Missouri State Parks. He also said that the park writes tickets for trespassing, although no park rangers were policing that area when Schramm died.

Witnesses told park rangers that Schramm "seemed to indicate she was hesitant" to jump. About 3 p.m. Saturday, "she ended up losing her footing and slipping and hitting the rocks on the way down," Dresner said.

The water is deep there, and if someone were to jump far enough away from the bluffs, they can avoid hitting rocks, Dresner said.

"But she fell so close to the edge she ended up hitting her head on a rock shelf that was slightly below the surface of the water," he said.