Officials believe torn strap caused local climber's fatal fall

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) - Officials say an equipment failure caused two teenage rock climbers to fall to their deaths in the Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police identified the victims as Benjamin Strohmeier of Hebron and Laura Fletcher of Brownsburg, Ind. - both 18 years old. They were found dead Tuesday evening.

John May, a member of Wolfe County Search and Rescue, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that crews returned to the area on Wednesday and found gear they hadn't seen on the rock the day before. May says a strap used by the climbers "essentially tore in half," and caused their fall. He says the climbers likely died from the impact.

They were found at the bottom of a rock cliff in the Torrent Falls area off Ky. 11.

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