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UGA student falls 90 feet to her death rock climbing

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Yutong "Faye" Zhang

By Joe Johnson

A University of Georgia student recently died after falling 90 feet while rock climbing at a nature facility in Alabama.

Yutong "Faye" Zhang, 18, was killed Oct. 14 at Cherokee Rock Village, a park featuring boulders that reach 200 feet high.

Cherokee Rock Village

A freshman from Apple Valley, MN, Zhang was a member of Active Climbing gym in Athens, which she visited a few times a week.

"Our thoughts are with Faye's family, friends, and colleagues in the University of Georgia community at this difficult time," Active Climbing said in a released statement. "We join them in mourning this profound loss and honoring the vibrancy, passion, and kindness that she brought into our lives. Faye, your spirit will forever be a part of our community. Rest in peace."

UGA spokesman Greg Trevor offered condolences on behalf of the university.

“We are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy," he said. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the student’s family, and we will continue to provide counseling and support to members of our community who have been affected by her passing.”

Zhang was born Feb. 24, 2005, in China and moved to Canada for a short time with her parents.  She and her family moved in 2019 to Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Zhang graduated in 2023 from Eastview high school, where shewas a member of the debate and speech teams, and won 2nd place Nationally in extemporaneous speaking.

Zhang was president of the National Honor Society at Eastview and was awarded a foundation fellowship to attend the University of Georgia.  She held herself with a level of kindness, encouragement to others, and a great sense of humor that drew people to her.  In her spare time Zhang enjoyed reading, writing, and cooking, and had a great love for singing, music and playing the piano.

Her adventurous spirit caused her to take interest in many different things; she wanted to constantly teach herself new activities.  She will be greatly missed by all who know and loved her.

 Zhang is survived by her parents: Pingchuan Zhang and Jia Cai; sister, Zoe Zhang; she is also survived by her grandparents: Weiqun Cai and Qili Feng; also, by other loving family and many friends.  Funeral service, 11am Saturday, October 28, 2023, at White Funeral Home, 14560 Pennock Ave, Apple Valley.  Visitation from 5-7pm Friday, October 27, at White Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service on Saturday.

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