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Officials: Woman's Death at State Park Wasn't Accidental

She was killed by falling 'section of tree'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2019 2:46 AM CDT
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Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park.   (Wikimedia Commons/Niagara 66)

(Newser) – A photographer was killed when part of a tree fell on her at Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park on Labor Day—and authorities believe it didn't fall by itself. Victoria Schafer, 44, was taking senior photos of six high school students when she was killed by the falling wood, Cleveland.com reports. "I would say we have information to support that the section of the tree that struck the victim did not fall by natural means," says Ohio Department of Natural Resources Capt. Schaad Johnson, per Fox 8. Authorities initially said Schafer had been killed by a falling tree branch, but relatives tell WCMH that authorities told them she was hit by a log that had been dislodged from a pile on the ridge above her.

Schafer was pronounced dead at the scene near the Old Man's Cave section of the park. Johnson says authorities are looking for a group of people who were above Schafer when the section of tree fell. "We do have evidence to support that individuals, and we have descriptions of them, were on the top section above where this incident happened and dislodged this section of tree," he says. Schafer ran her own photography business in Chillicothe, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Neighbors describe her as generous, "flamboyant," and the loving mother of four teenagers.The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting the ODNR's investigation. (Read more Ohio stories.)

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