Woman falls 400 feet to death in Colorado's Royal Gorge

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A 44-year-old woman plummeted 400 feet (120 meters) to her death from an observation deck overlooking the Royal Gorge canyon in the mountains of south-central Colorado, authorities said on Wednesday.

The victim fell from a platform at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, just northeast of a landmark bridge than spans a chasm 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the Arkansas River, the Canon City Police Department said in a statement.

"At this time, the fall appears to be accidental with no foul play suspected," the police statement said.

Authorities were notified on Monday that the woman, whose name has not been released, was missing after last being seen alive near the north end of the 1,270-foot- (385- meter) long bridge.

Crews began searching the area late on Monday but had to suspend rescue operations because it was too risky to traverse the treacherous terrain at night, police said.

Early on Tuesday, the Fremont County Search and Rescue Team located the woman's body on a cliff face, 400 feet below the observation deck, police said.

The Royal Gorge, about 60 miles (96 km) southwest of Colorado Springs, is one of the state's major tourist attractions. The narrow 10-mile (16-mile) canyon was carved through the redrock granite mountains over thousands of years by the Arkansas River.

Completed in 1929, the bridge that spans the canyon is billed as the highest suspension bridge in North America and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, according to the park's website.

A visitor's center and most of the buildings at the park had to be rebuilt after they were destroyed in a 2013 wildfire. The bridge sustained only minor damage from the blaze.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)