Lutheran High Valedictorian Dies In 14er Fall

Helicopter Rescue Crew Makes Hard Landing During Rescue on Little Bear Peak

An 18-year-old Littleton teen who had just graduated from Lutheran High School in Parker died in a fall while attempting to climb a 14,000 foot peak in southern Colorado.

An Army National Guard Chinook helicopter dispatched to rescue the fallen climber made a hard landing on 14,000-foot Mount Blanca near Alamosa Tuesday after one of the aircraft's rotors struck the ground.

The Chinook had been dispatched to help rescue the stranded climber who fell while ascending nearby Little Bear Peak, but Kevin Hayne died before crews could rescue him.

According to a friend's post on a climbing enthusiast message board, Hayne was hiking to the summit of 14,037-foot Little Bear Peak when he fell. A friend posted a list of "14ers" that Hayne wanted to climb in Colorado and Little Bear Peak was on the list.

Hayne's father said his son wanted to climb all 54 Colorado 14ers before he left for college this fall. He had summited nearly 40 so far.

"He was a passionate young man," said Hayne's father Lynn Hayne. "He's been climbing since he was 13-years-old. He had tremendous faith in God."

Lynn Hayne said the family is finding strength and comfort in friends, family and their church.

"We are grateful no one was injured in the helicopter incident," said Lynn Hayne. "We consider those men heroes for trying to rescue a member of our family."

His climbing partner wrote, "We were hiking the hourglass just shy of the summit of Little Bear Peak. The hourglass was completely iced over and was impassible, we decided to take a ledge on the left side of the hourglass and decided to wait and see if the sun would help melt anything out."

The poster writes that after waiting, both decided to continue and that is when Hayne lost his balance and fell down several hundred yards down a ravine.

"When I got to him he was breathing heavily and both his arms looked broken, both of our SPOT trackers malfunctioned at a terrible time," wrote the poster. "I waited 30 minutes by chance that the distress signal did go out, tried to comfort Kevin, and after no response from either Kevin or search and rescue, I made the hardest decision of my life and had to hike out, leaving my bruised and bloody partner behind."

Hayne's friend later writes that he went to get help. It took him about three hours to get to Alamosa and get search and rescue to help his friend.

One friend wrote, "I know he's in heaven though. RIP Kevin Andrew Hayne a technical man, a musician, a Christian, but most importantly friend. He will never be forgotten in the lives of the thousands that he touched."

"In my 35 years of education, he's one of the top notch students that I've ever seen," said Pastor Juls Clausen, executive director of the Colorado Lutheran High School Association.

"It's hard to wrap my head around really," said Chris Loesel, religion and music teacher at Lutheran. "He was just a quality kid. A phenomenal kid. The thing that stood out to me the most was his faith. I'm confident he's going to continue to touch lives even after he's gone."

The Chinook reached the site where Hayne fell, but was forced to make the hard landing in a meadow after the rear rotor hit a ridge, said National Guard spokesman Maj. Elena O'Bryan.

Seven crew members based out of Buckley Air Force Base were on board the helicopter at the time. None were injured.

“We were really fortunate no one was lost in the helicopter crash,” said Alamosa Sheriff Dave Stong.

Kevin Hayne's last location, as taken from a SPOT locator at 8:45 a.m. on June 15. Little Bear Peak is to the east. Three civilian emergency responders made their way to Hayne, but by the time they got to him, he had already died, O'Bryan said.

A security team stayed with the Chinook overnight. The aircrew was evacuated to Fort Carson on a Black Hawk helicopter.

O'Bryan said officials are investigating why the Chinook hit the terrain. The aircraft landed upright and the only damage appeared to be to the tail rotor, according to O'Bryan.

Hayne's body was being carried off the mountain Wednesday.

A spokesman for Spot GPS Devices told 7NEWS the devices are similar to other GPS devices. The device sends out a distress signal when hikers get into trouble.

"They are satellite based. They need an unobstructed view of the sky to perform," said Spot spokesman Derek Moore.

Moore said he couldn't comment on this case specifically because he was not familiar with all the facts, but he said if the device is obstructed by high canyon walls or heavy forest it may not get a signal out.

Hayne's father said the Spot device helped his family in the past, and he would recommend the device to anyone who climbs technical mountains.

Hayne graduated from Lutheran High School in Parker two weeks ago and was the class valedictorian. He was a Web page programmer, associated with Blaze Ministries.

Under ""Accomplishments" on the website, Hayne listed climbing Longs Peak three times and solo climbing Kit Carson, Challenger and Crestone Needle.

“He was a passionate young man who had summitted 38 to 40 fourteeners, something he had been doing since he was thirteen,” his father, Lynn Hayne, told 7NEWS.

A recent documentary called "What Faith Can Do" featured Hayne and his family talking about a 2009 climbing accident he was involved in on the Maroon Bells:

View on ExposureRoom

Little Bear is in a cluster of 14,000-foot peaks along the Sangre de Cristo Range, including Blanca Peak, Ellingwood Point and Mount Lindsey, about 20 miles northeast of Alamosa.