Her parents now at her hospital bedside, a 19-year-old Duluth woman who fell 35 to 50 feet during a canyon hike in Utah on Sunday faces a difficult recovery, her father said.
"We're doing fine; we're optimistic," Michael Hillmeyer said Wednesday in a phone interview about his daughter Sophie. "She's got a lot of stuff to overcome. She's still very injured."
Sophie Hillmeyer will undergo surgery for a badly broken left hip Thursday, he said, and another surgery for a broken left arm Tuesday. She's currently on a ventilator that her father said is slated to be withdrawn Friday. She also is recovering from head injuries.
The 2014 graduate of Duluth East has been sedated since being hospitalized following the fall at 12:15 p.m. Sunday in Waterfall Canyon near Ogden, Utah.
Michael and Nan Hillmeyer got a phone call about their daughter Sunday afternoon, and flew to Salt Lake City as soon as they could on Monday morning. They've been put up in a guest house on the McKay-Dee Hospital campus in Ogden and, Michael Hillmeyer said, "the support here has been very good."
Sophie Hillmeyer was climbing on the side of a waterfall with friends when a rock broke loose under her foot, causing her to fall, the Weber County Sheriff's Office reported earlier this week.
"It's sad and devastating it happened," Michael Hillmeyer said. "But it's an accident and all we can do is go forward and get her better."
Sophie Hillmeyer's older sister, Claire, is expected to arrive from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Saturday. The family, Michael Hillmeyer said, has been providing updates for a large network of friends and family back home.
Sophie Hillmeyer was in Utah as part of her service with AmeriCorps; she had been hiking with friends on a day off. They'd been providing labor for a festival coming to Golden Spike National Historic Site near Brigham City, Utah. Prior to that, Sophie Hillmeyer had been in Death Valley National Park doing wilderness reclamation - and before that she spent 10 weeks in Tacoma, Wash., building houses with Habitat for Humanity.
She'd texted her mother and boyfriend before the fall, saying how nice it was to be out of the desert and into a place with some trees.
"The AmeriCorps experience for her has been an absolutely amazing experience," Michael Hillmeyer said. "It's been really hard for her teammates. They come from all over the country, all walks of life and they get very, very close. They're shaken by what happened."