published Thursday, May 30th, 2013

UPDATE: Preliminary autopsy rules woman’s Cloudland Canyon death a suicide

  • photo
    A view of the bluffs at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County, Ga.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

A preliminary Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy has ruled suicide as the cause of death for a 37-year-old woman who fell in Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Walker County Coroner Dewayne Wilson said authorities believe Heather Harlan, of Ringgold, climbed over a fence and past a sign warning not to go to the edge of the canyon, and jumped.

Harlan was found dead on May 18 at the bottom of the canyon, about a 100-feet drop from the top, Wilson said.

He said her autopsy found she died of blunt-force trauma to her head, neck, torso and extremities.

Harlan, a mother of three, was seen climbing over the fence and, when asked what she was doing, told the observer she was taking a picture, Wilson said.

When spotted she climbed back over the fence, but based on evidence authorities believe she went back over it.

The GBI still is looking into the death and awaiting a more extensive medical report.

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