An adventurous 24-year-old man from Hawaii was killed when he fell hundreds of feet on Easter Sunday along a trail that has been the sight of three other deaths since 2011.
Nathan Stowell was hiking along Mount Olomana’s third peak on the morning of April 1 when a strong gust of wind reportedly blew off a friend’s hat. Stowell tried to retrieve it, against the warning of his friends, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Stowell then slid down the hill as he tried to retrieve the hat, tumbling about 400 feet down from the path. Officials from the Honolulu Fire Department found Stowell unconscious and without a pulse after an hours-long search through the heavily-wooded area, Hawaii News Now reported.
“Where he was found, it was a heavy canopy, meaning it was an area where there are lots of trees, and it was a pretty steep fall that he suffered,” Battalion Chief Damien Kahaulelio told Kohn 2 News. “Air One conducted an aerial search and we inserted a rescue person who found the patient unconscious, not breathing, and no pulse.”
The Honolulu medical examiner determined that Stowell—who is originally from Arizona—died from multiple injuries to his head and torso, and his death has been deemed an accident, the news station reported.
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Stowell’s friend, James Keener, told Kohn 2 that the young man had frequently lent a helping hand to others.
“Kid’s hat blew off and he told the kid, ‘Don’t get the hat. Let me get it,’ because Nathan felt he had better balance, and he fell 400 feet to his death,” Keener said. “He’s just an absolute amazing human being. We are just blessed to have him in our lives as long as we had him.”
Keener added: “It’s a shame this had to take place, but he loved the outdoors. He loved hiking. He had a bucket list set up with all these different trails.”
Andrew Compean, Stowell’s former coworker at Handy Andy Hawaii, told Hawaii News that he had a missed call from his friend that morning.
“I’m still kind of in denial. I feel that I’m just going to see him tomorrow, because we had so much planned,” he said. “He had a future and there was a nice place for him in the future with everything that we’re doing with the company and he was an intricate part of that. It’s just crazy to think that we have to do it without him.”
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Khon reports that Stowell moved to Hawaii from Arizona when he was 18 because he admired the island’s culture and its opportunities for adventure. Olomana, the trail he ventured out on that morning, is known as one of Oahu’s most difficult hikes. A description of the trail on the hiking website, The Outbound, immediately tells readers that Olomana “takes guts” and “is not for the faint of heart.”
A GoFundMe has been set up by a family friend to help Stowell’s mother and two sisters traveled to the island for a memorial ceremony. It has since raised more than $5,000 in just under a day.
Lexis Sweeney, Stowell’s older sister, told Hawaii News Now that Stowell had been FaceTiming with their other sister at the beginning of his hike that morning.
“I thought it was a sick April Fools’ joke to be honest with you. My baby brother is 24 years old and he’s dead,” Sweeney said. “My brother died doing what he loved but it was literally a horrific accident.”