'Mom, we love you, we gotta go,' the sisters said. Hours later, they died – together.

Cathy Hocking wasn’t particularly worried about her daughters driving through the night from Phoenix to watch the Good Friday sun rise over the Grand Canyon. She was more anxious about what they might do once they got there.


Her eldest – Karli Richardson, 20, a graduating senior at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix – had a thing for four-wheeling; her youngest – Kelsey Richardson, a precocious Western Carolina University junior – picked jumping out of a perfectly good airplane over a party for her 18th birthday last July. Adventure? It filled them up.

So when the Mooresville-native sisters called on Kelsey’s phone a little after 11 last Thursday night to say they wanted to spend one of the final mornings of their spring break chilling out together on the edge of a majestic red-rock cliff, she told them: Now listen to me – do not climb over the rails and take some stupid picture that you think’s gonna look cool, and fall off. People do it. Don’t do it. Be careful.

Cathy could practically hear them rolling their…

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