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Child dies after fall at popular western South Dakota rock climbing area

Falling Rock is a popular rock-climbing destination just west of Rapid City. Rapid City Journal file photo

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A 6-year-old girl died from injuries after a fall from the top of Falling Rock west of Rapid City, according to a news release on Sunday from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident is believed to be an accident based on the on-scene investigation, the news release says, but the body of the child is being held as the investigation unfolds.

Neither the name of the victim nor further information has been released.

A scenic site 6 miles west of Rapid City off Highway 44, Falling Rock has been a popular outdoor destination for years. The area is frequented by rock climbers and hikers because of proximity to Rapid City, its easy approach and spectacular views. In the area, large limestone cliffs — some more than 50 feet fall — overlook a sprawling canyon with Rapid Creek below.

Falling Rock is in Black Hills National Forest and forest officials have said in the past there is little they can do to keep the area safe.

Since 1992, at least seven people have died there, including a 39-year-old mother of two who died while climbing the limestone cliffs with her husband in 2014.