What do you fear the most when you turn on the news? Maybe it’s a political disaster, or a stock market tumble. But gaffs in D.C. and financial plummets can be solved. A tragic turn of events involving a teenager, a photograph, and a long fall, however, are not so amendable.
The family and friends of teenager Kaylee Marvin were horrified when they turned on the news and read the headline featuring her name. Then, her best friend and witness to the newsworthy accident discovered something that made her final moments all the more devastating.
It’s always tragic when someone dies unexpectedly, but when it’s a teenager, it’s all the more heartbreaking. Such was the case of 16-year-old Kaylee Marvin. There was so much life left to live if a slight misstep hadn’t changed everything.
Kaylee was a uniquely daring individual, a girl who was known for being spunky, sassy, and silly all at once. Throughout her childhood, her mother considered Kaylee to be her “angel” and “best friend.” Her mother wasn’t Kaylee’s only fan.
One of seven siblings, Kaylee’s carefree spirit and kind heart made her stand out. It’s this that connected her to one of her favorite things — nature. “She loves being outdoors and fishing and camping,” one of her friends, Lindsey, said.
The love of the outdoors led Kaylee to Santaquin Canyon one day in late June 2018. On that particularly sunny day, Kaylee and her friend Macy headed to the canyon to do some hiking and to take some photos of the scenery.
The area in which they were hiking, Santaquin Canyon, was not heavily traversed land. But on that day, the girls weren’t bothered by their lack of experience. They were up for the challenge of it all.
Kaylee and Macy were taking silly pictures when disaster struck. Kaylee was trying to cross a small waterfall known as Old Pioneer Log Chute when she fell between 60-100 feet. By the time Macy found her, Kaylee wasn’t breathing.
Macy called 911 and started CPR. Once emergency crews arrived, they tried to use a defibrillator to revive Kaylee. Everyone from an air ambulance to the Utah County Search & Rescue desperately tried to save the 16-year-old’s life.
But it was too late. Kaylee passed away from her injuries about an hour after her tragic fall. While her family and friends struggled to accept the news, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office tried to answer the question — what happened?
Thanks to Macy, they learned that Kaylee had been trying to cross a small waterfall and had slipped. Old Pioneer Log Chute is a seasonal waterfall, meaning it isn’t there year-round. But just because it isn’t always there doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.
It actually makes the normally dry rocks surrounding the waterfall extremely slippery. Poor Kaylee had just been doing what she loved the most: exploring nature. Such a tragic and unexpected end is difficult for anyone to bear, including the police officers involved.
Lt. Tom Hodgeson of the UCSO expressed his condolences to the family and cautioned people to know their limits when hiking outdoors, especially in secluded or relatively unexplored areas. Still, he understood how alluring a sunny day and an adventure can be…
“Santaquin Canyon is a beautiful area,” he said. “But please have safeguards in place…one misstep can lead to a tragedy like today.” And that’s exactly what happened: one single misstep forced Kaylee’s parents to live in a world without her.
Her parents, Sydni and Garrad Johnston, were understandably devastated by the loss of their little girl. “Words can’t explain,” Sydni said. “She was just so loving and accepting of everybody and wanted everybody to feel loved.” Her stepfather elaborated on Kaylee’s kindness.
“She was a friend to everyone,” he said proudly. “She was good at seeking out those that…didn’t have friends.” Macy missed her friend’s caring nature the most, and she has learned to cope in an unexpected way.
She deals with the pain by reminding herself of one fact. “She died doing what she loved that day and there was no other place she would have rather gone,” Macy said. In an effort to heal, she takes her grieving one step further.
Despite the horror of watching her friend fall to her death, Macy claims “it almost gives me closure replaying it in my mind.” And soon after Kaylee’s death, Macy discovered something that made the horrible events of that day replay yet again.
She found a photo she had taken of Kaylee posing on a huge cliff in Santaquin Canyon. When she saw the photo, she realized that she had snapped it mere minutes before Kaylee fell over 60 feet to her death.
Though the photo is definitely haunting, it’s also a symbol of what Kaylee’s family remembers most about her: Her free spirit, her loving nature, and her appreciation of the outdoors. And Kaylee is not only remembered in her own home.
Ribbons, notes, and messages in tribute to Kaylee line the streets of her Santaquin neighborhood, all with letters detailing how much love Kaylee spread. “She was brave and kind and so funny and sassy,” her friend, Linsdey, said.
Kaylee’s friends and family also released purple balloons as a touching tribute to her life. It was a beautiful send-off for their departed daughter, sister, and friend. Kaylee’s kindhearted, carefree spirit is sure to live on, in nature and with her loved ones.
Were they to have met, Kaylee and a man named Brad Parker would’ve been close friends. He had a gift with people. He was a guy everyone just gravitated to — he was larger than life. And he, too, climbed one mountain too many.
Brad Parker / Facebook
After finishing up high school in 1996, the Santa Rosa, California, native traveled the world. He passed through Indonesia, New Zealand, and more, and jumped head first into any extreme sport he could find.
Brad Parker / Facebook
In his thirties, he catapulted himself into the upper-echelons of rock climbers, earning a cover spot on California Climber magazine in 2012. On the side, he taught yoga — his energy and enthusiasm captivated even those he barely knew.
Brad Parker / Facebook
“Rock climbers knew him as [an awesome] climber,” Brad’s best friend and climbing partner Jerry Dodrill said. “Surfers knew him as [an awesome] surfer, and yoga instructors knew him as an amazing yoga instructor.”
Brad’s friends, family, and even minor acquaintances were delighted in June 2014, when the 36-year-old let his friends and family on social media know the truth: he was in love with a girl named Jainee Dial.
Brad Parker / Facbook
Jainee managed an online store that sold outdoor adventure products to women, and she faced life with a similar enthusiasm as Brad. In fact, two months after Brad’s Facebook post, the couple set out for Yosemite National Park.
Jainee Dial / Facebook
And though Jainee didn’t know it, the ever-smiling, always-excited Brad planned a surprise for her there. He unveiled it on a Saturday morning climb to the summit of Cathedral Peak — a 10,912-foot mountain.
Jainee Dial / Facebook
Using ropes, the couple ambled upwards for a few hours before reaching the narrow peak of the mountain. There, on a piece of rock just big enough for two people to stand on, Brad lowered himself to one knee and asked Jainee to marry him.
For nearly 40 years, Brad chased every thrill he could find, but chances were, his heart never beat harder or faster than in the split-second silence following his proposal. To his delight, Jainee said “yes.”
Minutes later, as the two descended the mountain, Brad told her, “this is the happiest day of my life.” And though Brad didn’t know it, that moment of pure elation that followed the couple’s commitment to marriage was the moment his life peaked…
…because once they reached the base of the mountain, the climber caught an itch — an itch to climb another mountain. So while Jainee headed back to camp, Brad hiked to Matthes Crest, a massive ridge just three miles away.
In hindsight, it wasn’t unexpected that Brad left his fiancé to climb again — he’d been training for a major climb he planned for the future. But as he hiked up towards Matthes Crest, other hikers noticed something was off about the man.
One of those hikers, Cedric Ma, saw Brad on his way to the crest. “He said he was dehydrated and had cramps,” Cedric wrote. “After that, he continued to solo up the north summit and disappeared from view.”
Nevertheless, cramped, dehydrated, and likely fatigued from climbing earlier in the day at high altitudes, Brad tackled the vertical face of Matthes Crest. At about 5:45 p.m. — hours after his proposal — Brad slipped.
Other climbers and hikers in the area watched from afar as the experienced climber and soon-to-be-wed man fell 300 feet from the top of the ridge. He hit the rocky ground below with a thud. Then, there was silence.
This silence was not like the momentary one that followed Brad’s proposal to Jainee. This was the silence of death, total and deafening, a finite sort of thing broken only by the park rangers when they hiked in to recover Brad’s body.
By the time rangers found Brad, it was too late for the helicopter to fly in for extraction. They left him there overnight, and in the morning, they removed him from the park. Soon, word spread to all of Brad’s friends, family.
There was little solace to take in Brad’s death, but still, as Brad himself would’ve done, his loved ones turned the meaninglessness of his demise into something beautiful. They spread his ashes around the California coast — and more.
As time passed, Brad’s friends found more ways to honor their friend. The memorial service for Brad featured a “paddle out” into the Russian River Mouth near Jenner, California. There, Jainee and Brad’s mother mourned together.
And when the wounds healed further, those close to Brad ventured into Yosemite. Together, they climbed Cathedral Peak, the place where Brad enjoyed the happiest moment of his action-packed life. That moment with Jainee.
Jainee Dial / Facebook
It wasn’t until later, when the pain of the moment didn’t sting so deep, that Jainee sat down and reflected, recording her thoughts in a 2016 Facebook post. “To Brad Parker,” she wrote. “It’s so bittersweet. So brutal. And yet, so precious and true…”
Jainee Dial / Facebook
She continued. “You not only live on in me but continue to live on in others and give them life. And not only life, but that great consciousness of life that reminds us what truly matters…You continue to give me life. And what an awful, stinging irony that is.”
They say that love can conquer anything, and when you’re in love it certainly can feel that way. However, no matter how head over heels you may be, the world doesn’t just stop—not even when you really want it to. It’s a painful reality that some tragedies can’t be avoided by even the strongest of relationships.
And childhood sweethearts Jake Coates and Emmy Collett, found this out the hardest way imaginable. They met each other when they were just 11 years old, and though their relationship changed over time, the closeness of their bond never wavered.
As they began to grow older, the connection between the duo was undeniable. “When we were 16 we finally sought the courage to fully admit our feelings for each other and we dated for three years,” said Emmy about their early days.
As with many cases of high school love, the two decided to split when they were accepted into different colleges. Still, Emmy never forgot the note that Jake wrote her when they were still together: “You are my everything and if you still can put up with me, I will marry you one day,” it read.
Even though they were no longer a romantic item, Emmy and Jake still stayed in touch. Amazingly, 10 years after they first broke up, the two found themselves falling back in love with each other and dating once more in their twenties.
Their relationship wasn’t easy. With Jake working as a doctor in Sydney, Australia, and Emmy teaching in London, the couple had 10,000 miles separating them. They were able to make their relationship work in spite of the distance with a little help from FaceTime.
By 2016, Jake knew that it was time to follow through on that note he’d written to Emmy all those years ago. He planned to propose to her on a cliff during a trip to the Philippines; it would be an epic way to start their lives together! But then something happened that changed everything…
Emmy had flown to Australia to pay a visit to Jake and they went to the beach. Afterward, while at dinner, Emmy asked Jake if he would rub her neck. Jake was happy to do it—until he got his hands around her neck…
“We were [sitting in a] restaurant on a Sunday afternoon—a really sunny, beautiful day—and I just put my hands round her neck from behind and I knew straight away [something was wrong]. My blood ran cold,” Jake said. Jake found a massive lump on Emmy’s neck.
“You don’t want to worry someone so I didn’t shout ‘Oh my God, Emmy, why didn’t you tell me about this’ or anything,” he continued. “I just said very calmly that she needed to have it checked out really quickly.” The next day Emmy flew home to get the lump examined—and she found out something neither she nor Jake expected.
Emmy was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer, and doctors said it had already spread to her spine, lungs, liver, and bones. She was supposed to be preparing for the trip of a lifetime, and now she and Jake were grappling with the news that her condition was fatal.
“She had been complaining about not feeling great for a while but no one had ever felt her neck,” Jake said. Though the couple had only been back together for six months, Jake dropped everything and flew home to England. He wasn’t giving up on Emmy.
The couple refused to believe that the doctors were right. They wanted to fight the cancer, and they settled in to do it. “Believe it or not I am happier than ever. Love truly is the best drug and I have been totally smothered in it,” Emmy said at the time with Jake by her side.
Unfortunately, fate wasn’t finished in dealing out its rough blows for the couple. Emmy learned that if her cancer was caught earlier, she could have cured it. She also learned that she would never be able to have children.
In light of all of this devastating news, Jake decided to change his plans to propose to Emmy. Instead of whisking her away, he asked her as she lie in bed if she would be his wife. She was ecstatic and accepted on the spot!
Learning that Emmy would not be able to be in the sun once she started treatment, Jake whisked her away to Dubai for five days of rest and relaxation. Emmy and Jake decided to live together in the moment, rather than focus on the negative aspects of their situation.
Throughout her grueling treatment, Emmy stayed smiling, positive, and active. She even completed a 1,242-mile bike ride with Jake to raise money for the hospital where she was being treated. They got tattoos together to memorialize the special event…
Finally, in September 2016, the couple tied the knot in front of their families and friends. The only person who wasn’t crying during the ceremony was Emmy—she simply couldn’t wipe the delighted grin from her face.
The couple’s story gained national attention when Emmy started writing a blog about her journey. Amazingly, the blog led to her being able to live out her dream of writing children’s books! Meanwhile, Jake was named “ITV Fundraiser of the Year” at the Pride of Britain Awards for working so hard to help support the hospital looking after his wife.
In spite being thrust into the spotlight, the two tried and live a normal, happy life together. While they knew Emmy couldn’t carry a child of her own, they were hopeful that a surrogate was their answer. Emmy wrote about this on her blog and women from all over the world responded, eager to help.
One of the women who wrote to the couple was actually a former school friend of theirs, Liz Begg. Liz already had children of her own, and she was thrilled to be able to offer Emmy and Jake the gift of surrogacy. “I didn’t really know them at school but when Emmy started sharing her story on her blog, I knew I wanted to help,” Liz said.
After a few meetings with Emmy and Jake, the decision was made—and Liz was implanted with one of the embryos the couple had harvested. They were with Liz every step of the way. All that was left to do was wait three weeks for the test results…
Because Jake was a medically trained professional, he was able to take care of Emmy in a way that most spouses couldn’t. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always good. Sometimes, Jake was the only one who could answer Emmy’s tough questions about her future.
This was a tremendous struggle for Jake. He wanted to be honest, but he also didn’t want his wife to be afraid. All the same, he was thankful that he was able to be there for Emmy, and she knew that focusing on the medical aspect of her situation would give him some distance from their struggle.
Finally, Emmy and Jake got some good news: the implantation worked—Liz was pregnant! “We sat around a table and watched three pregnancy tests turn positive one after the other,” Jake said. “To experience that moment with Emmy and see the hope in her eyes was incredible,” Liz added. “That was the most perfect day we ever spent together.” Sadly, it was also the last day they would spend together.
Tragically, Emmy passed away on June 16, 2017 at the age of 31. “Less than an hour after doing the tests Emmy could barely keep her eyes open—the tank was well and truly empty. Truth be told, Emmy never fully woke up,” Jake said.
For Jake there was even more loss to come. His surrogate, Liz, wound up losing the pregnancy. They tried implantation twice more before giving up. “Liz has been the most selfless, kind, thoughtful and gorgeous person throughout this whole process,” he said.
Jake mourned the loss of his wife and the loss of the child the two of them would never raise together. But he was able to take comfort in one thought: “I will always believe that Emmy has that first baby up with her in heaven,” he said.
While losing Emmy was something Jake would never forget, he carried her openness of heart with him. That is what made it possible for him to discover a new love just eight months after losing his beloved Emmy…
In the early months of 2018, Jake brought his new love, Jenna Selby, with him to Iceland where he planned on running two back-to-back marathons to help raise more money for the hospital that treated Emmy. Jake seemed happy, but some people online weren’t entirely on board…
While some were excited that Jake had found love again, others criticized him for moving on from Emmy in so short a span of time. They also were quick to point out that Jenna even looked a little bit like Emmy, too. Jake took their feedback in stride and came back with a wonderful response…
“The odd negative comments that have been written (by people that don’t know me or have any understanding of my life or what I have been through) have been deleted because I don’t have any space in my life for negativity,” he said. But that wasn’t all.
Jake shared how meeting Jenna and her young son basically saved his life. “No one was more surprised than me. They have both brought the sunshine back into my life and given me the nudge I so desperately needed to start living life to the full again,” he said. He would never forget Emmy, but admitted that “life is so short, you have to grab it with both hands and enjoy every second of it.”
After the three failed attempts at surrogacy with Liz, Jake was heartbroken thinking he would never have a child of his own with Emmy. Jenna’s young son filled a void in his heart. They spent countless hours together, playing, hiking, and goofing around.
Though Emmy is gone, Jake still volunteered daily at the hospital where she was treated. In fact, he ran an art program there for children undergoing treatment for life-threatening cancer. It was just one way he kept Emmy’s memory alive.
Another way he planned to keep Emmy’s memory alive was by raising money through his marathons. In just eight weeks, Jake ran an amazing nine marathons raising more than $1,000,000 to help support the hospital! Jake lost a toenail, drove countless miles, and pushed his body to the limit—but to him, it was all worth it.
While Jake was doing his best to move on, it wasn’t always easy, and he had a message for other married couples: “Go to your husband or your wife. Your partner or your lover. Tell them that you love them. Embrace them. Hold them that little bit longer… You’re only here in this world for the shortest time and you never know when it might all disappear.”