Ever been to Helper, Utah?

The little town (population 2,100) is nestled next to a mountain formation called the Book Cliffs.

The Book Cliffs State park and the town of Helper, both just north of Moab, are rugged frontier-type land and the road through the park is winding and can be treacherous.

Last year, it claimed a life, though no one knows exactly what happened.

Seventy-year-old Melissa Gonzales, a wisp of a woman at just 5-foot-1 and barely 100-pounds, had just visited her niece in Grand Junction, Colo. (just west of Grand Junction), when she drove off, happily behind the wheel of her blue 2007 Honda Pilot toward home.

But for some reason, Gonzales took a detour. Instead of heading home, she got on Interstate-70 and headed west toward the Utah border. She stopped for snacks at a Dollar General store in Fruita, a Colorado town just east of the Utah-Colorado border.

That was the last time anyone saw her alive.

When she didn't return home or answer any phone calls or texts, family members began to worry. They filed a missing persons report and asked police to ping her cell phone.

Oddly, her cell phone showed a signal in Eastern Utah, near the town of Helper and the Book Cliffs. Family members say she had no reason to be there.

Authorities conducted a search of the area, but when the phone stopped pinging (presumably because the battery died) and she still hadn't been located, they gave up and the case went cold.

Four months later, in March of 2023, a DWR helicopter surveying a rugged area in the Book Cliffs State park spotted a crashed vehicle at the bottom of one of the cliffs.

Officials say the Utah Department of Natural Resources was doing work in a helicopter when it found a car in Grand County yesterday morning.  When police arrived, they discovered a body inside of the car that's registered to a person missing since last November.

Gonzales' lifeless body was identified as the deceased person, but the questions were plentiful.

Why was she in Utah? Was the crash an accident? Had she simply been driving too fast when she went off the ridge? Was there something more sinister at play here? Why did it take more than four months to find her? How long was she alive after the initial crash?

Tuesday (Mar. 19) is the one year anniversary of authorities finding her body and no one seems to have any idea what the answers to these questions are.

Officials are only saying the injuries that caused her death are consistent with those sustained from a car accident.

Perhaps only Gonzales herself knows the answers. We may never know.

How Many Parasequences?
View of the Book Cliffs from above Helper Utah. How many parasequences are there in the cliff? 7,8, or 9? This is the Spring Canyon Member By Bermac at English Wikipedia - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89287607
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