HOCKING HILLS, OH (WCMH) — When the news of Victoria Schafer’s death at Hocking Hills made headlines, much of the focus was on the nature of the photographer’s death in the heavily wooded state Park.
The picturesque landscape both beckoned Labor Day holiday hikers and became backdrop for senior photos snapped by Schafer of the six high schoolers with her.
The students from different area high schools were chosen as representatives for Schafer’s photography studio.
NBC4 spoke with four of them.
Megan, Maylee, Isabella and Angel attend Huntington High School, Zane Trace, Waverly and Paint Valley.
Maylee was the one to call 911 that day, triggered when a limb from within this 25-mile sea of trees came crashing down onto Schafer, killing her instantly.
“I knew that I had to call because I was the only one with the phone in that moment,” she said.
The group says the trip to Hocking Hills was a reunion of sorts and planned just two days prior.
The girls say they were having fun and enjoying the landscape until they were leaving the park with Schafer behind them. Then they heard an unmistakable noise.
“We were walking up the metal steps, and a really loud like crack sound occurred and we all just turned around and she was down,” said Megan.
It was a sound they won’t forget; followed by images they can’t escape. Minutes, they say, felt like hours as they waited for emergency crews to arrive.
“It felt like forever honestly. Just like sitting there we were like when are they going to get here,” said Megan.
Even when help arrived, Megan says she knew the news wasn’t good.
“I think once we got out of the woods and they had us start filling out police statements and it took them forever to get her out it felt like years. I was like they need to get her to the hospital,” said Megan.
Just a handful of days later as they share memories of Schafer, they are adjusting to life without her.
“She was basically like family she wanted us to know we were loved no matter what,” said Angel.
A life they say includes new friendships and an unexpected bond born from horror and heartbreak.
“We could be on opposite ends of the world and still come back together somehow,” said Maylee.
The girls said they didn’t see anything suspicious or anyone acting suspiciously.
There are still no arrests in the case.