A 23-year-old journalism prodigy died over the weekend after falling from a rope swing at Folsom Lake in California.
Kathryn “Katie” Hoedt was visiting the lake with friends on Saturday when she released herself from the rope swing, falling 30 feet to the shore below.
She was taken to a nearby boat ramp, where an off-duty doctor performed CPR. Park rangers were dispatched to the ramp around 12:30 p.m., and she was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where she later died.
Hoedt graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and mass communications three years ago. She later graduated from New York University with a Masters in journalism.
Early last year, Hoedt moved to California to begin what would be a short career in broadcast journalism, working for several months at Nexstar Media Group’s Fox affiliate KTXL (Channel 40) before joining Hearst-owned NBC affiliate KCRA-TV (Channel 3) as a morning news producer.
“Our team is heartbroken about the loss of Katie Hoedt. She had a vibrant personality, she lit up the newsroom with her enthusiasm and her laughter was contagious,” a KCRA-TV executive said in a statement on Monday. “She was also proud to be a journalist and she was deeply committed to serving our community.”
Rope swings are not legal at California State Parks, and officials at Folsom Lake say they work diligently to remove them when they are spotted.
“This is something we don’t allow here at state parks, and we do make an effort to cut down the rope swings that we see because of situations like this,” Mike Howard, a sector superintendent for California State Parks, told the Sacramento Bee in an interview.
Despite a record wet winter, which caused lake and river water levels to rise in recent months, Folsom Lake has started to recede in recent weeks, exposing more of the shoreline.
“A rope swing may be safer earlier in the season, and then as the season progresses, they get much more dangerous,” Howard said. “In this incident, I think she was just trying to have a good time, do something exciting, and obviously the result was catastrophic. It’s not worth it.”
Park officials have opened an investigation into the death, but do not anticipate any charges will be brought.