PROVO, Utah – The mayor ordered flags lowered to half staff on Monday after a 10-day search for an a Brigham Young University coed ended where it began in earnest — near a popular canyon waterfall where her body was found at the bottom of a hanging cliff.
Search crews in Provo Canyon had spent days gingerly climbing around 607-foot Bridal Veil Falls, but wasn't until Sunday afternoon that they stumbled across the woman's body a quarter mile from the falls at the base of a 200-foot cliff, said Utah County Sheriff James O. Tracy.
Tracy said it appeared Camille Cleverley, 22, had made her way up a rocky talus slope halfway up the falls, then followed a series of angled ledges to an outcrop where she fell. Her body was found hidden by pine trees and heavy brush on the steep slope.
Authorities early on scoured the canyon bike trails up to the falls, about 10 miles from her off-campus apartment, but found no sign of Cleverley or her only transportation, a mountain bike. Then, on Friday, a teenage couple came forward with a bicycle matching the description of Cleverley's, saying they took it from Bridal Veil Falls two nights after she disappeared.
Cleverley's parents, from Boise, Idaho, joined hundreds of students on Sunday night for a vigil-turned-memorial that echoed Mormon beliefs of eternal family afterlife at the school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cleverly was majoring in marriage, family and human development at BYU's School of Family Life who recently completed a church mission in Germany.
She had been scheduled to start her senior year on Sept. 4.
"We're very grateful for Camille's exemplary life," said her father, Joel Cleverley, referring to the mission, an option for Mormon women that is considered hard duty by the men. "She's had some trials this past year, and was prepared to meet her maker."
Her mother, Susan, thanked everyone involved in the search and said she believed her daughter was happy to be found.
"She was a great sister and I'm really sad that she's gone," said David Cleverley, Camille's brother.
Provo Mayor Lewis Billings ordered flags lowered to half staff Monday in honor of Camille, who "became one of us" when she first arrived at the university. "And now we mourn her passing."
Investigators, meanwhile, scoured the cliffs around Bridal Veil Falls, trying to determine how she fell to her death. The Utah medical examiner's office took her body from the canyon Sunday evening. Inside her backpack were bottles of fruit drink authorities determined she bought with a debit card the day she was last seen bicycling in town. She also bought chocolate-covered doughnuts with the purchase.
Her body had injuries consistent with a severe fall, but it was too early to rule out foul play, Provo police Capt. Cliff Argyle said.
"How she ended up there, we're not sure," Argyle said.
Authorities said it was possible for a hiker without ropes to reach the cliff where she fell, though most people stay closer to the falls. More than a dozen people, including children, were climbing the falls Sunday even as her body was being recovered.
Provo is about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City.