A 16-year-old Phoenix boy fell more than 300 feet to his death off the side of the Mogollon Rim Saturday morning.
At about 8 a.m., Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and the Gila County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a location about five miles down Forest Road 300.
The boy was among a large group of campers who had pitched their tents within feet of the rocky outcroppings jutting out over the sheer cliffs of the rim.
GCSO Sgt. Terry Hudgens interviewed relatives at the scene.
"The victim's 13-year-old cousin saw him fall," Hudgens said. "The boys were told to stay away from the cliffs, but they woke up early and they were climbing around the edge. It could have been the wind or vertigo -- we don't know exactly what happened. He fell about 350 feet and suffered massive head injuries that were immediately fatal."
Paramedic Harris Scott of the Pine/Strawberry Fire Department was the first to rappel down the jagged cliff and pronounced the boy dead at the scene.
Tonto Rim Search and Rescue volunteers then repelled down to assist in retrieving the body.
"Most of these falls are fatalities," Pine/Strawberry Firefighter Kevin Figueroa said. "People who come from the Valley are unfamiliar with the high winds that can change at a moment's notice. It's beautiful up here and you can understand why they would want to camp at the edge of the Rim, but it is so dangerous -- especially for kids. Often, campers come at night and pitch their tents and have no idea how close they are to the edge."
The Blue Ridge Fire Department and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office also assisted with the recovery effort.