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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hiker who died recalled fondly

Teenager fell off a cliff at Indian Painted Rocks trail

A recent Mt. Spokane High School graduate who fell hundreds of feet to her death was remembered Friday as a compassionate young woman who fought for social justice.

A hiking outing of five friends Thursday night turned deadly when 18-year-old Lois Ordway-Fleck, of Spokane, fell off a cliff at the Indian Painted Rocks trail within the Little Spokane River Natural Area. She died of a skull fracture, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office reported Friday afternoon.

Ordway-Fleck was dedicated to social causes at school and stood strongly against human trafficking, said Josh Cowart, who came to know her at Mt. Spokane High School, where he works. This summer she went to Thailand to help people trapped in slavery, he said.

“I think that’s something I will always cherish about Lois,” he said in an email. “Lots of people seem to tout ‘social justice’ or ‘equal rights’ but how many people actually do something about it with their lives? While many other graduating seniors in the United States are taking trips to Florida or Europe or Cabo, Lois goes to Thailand to work with people less fortunate than herself.

“That fact alone will give you insight into the maturity and compassion of this young woman.”

Ordway-Fleck was with four others between ages 18 and 22 who went to the Painted Rocks, north of Spokane, around 7:15 p.m., said Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin.

She had gone off the trail with another woman, and they were trying to ascend a steep, rocky area when Ordway-Fleck fell 300 feet, Chamberlin said. Spokane County Fire District 9 rescue personnel were called to the scene and first rescued the other woman, who was so traumatized she would not move from the rock. That woman was rescued about 9:25 p.m.

Jessica Tucker posted on her Facebook page Friday that she was hiking with the group when Ordway-Fleck fell and that she was the woman that had to be rescued.

“One minute she was alive and the next dead,” Tucker wrote. “Lois, i love you like a sister and will always remember you as that spunky sarcastic basketball playing fool with the guts to climb the cliff.”

Tucker reflected on the accident and said they were too confident climbing the cliffs.

“It was horrific and tragic,” she wrote.

Cowart said Ordway-Fleck was “a fantastic young woman who deeply enriched the lives of those around her.”

“I have only good things to say about Lois and when I learned of her death this morning my heart ached,” he said. “It ached for our community, her family, and those who were much closer to her than I was.”  

Ordway-Fleck’s body was recovered around 10:30 p.m., Chamberlin said. The death is not considered suspicious, and authorities don’t believe alcohol or drugs were involved.

Those who knew Ordway-Fleck are left trying to make some sense of the sudden death.

“I’d like to believe that all things have a purpose and that good can spring from tragedy … but right now I can’t get past the feeling that our world is worse off today than it was

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