I think most of it is journalistic sensationalism; it's an attention getter no matter how you look at it. However, it does stem from a very real fear that almost all humans display. If we weren't wired to be afraid of falling we probably wouldn't be around. Most animals display the behavior as well and at a very young age.
But I get your point. Some 30,000 people get killed in vehicles every year and we seem to brush it off as if it weren't all that significant. Most of them barely get any press coverage unless it's a massive pile-up or involves a bunch of fatalities. The exception would be aircraft crashes. They too usually involve a "big fall" and are often front page news even though they rarely occur compared to car crashes.
As for the recent Mt Hood "fall" my heart goes out to the family, relatives and friends. It's especially poignant when it occurs in the exact same place that many of us have traveled. As I said last year, "be bold but be safe".