Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 18, 2013

Fatal Attraction: Georgia man’s love of Montana ends in tragedy


-- — Search and Rescue personnel found Austin Parker’s remains at the bottom of a scree cliff. His jacket and backpack had been torn away from his tumbling body and shredded to pieces when Parker fell 300 feet.

According to Steve, Austin died from massive head trauma and was dead before he even hit the bottom.

Search and Rescue team members who retrieved Parker’s body were dodging falling rock from the slopes above, hinting at the conditions Parker was dealing with during his hurried descent off the mountain.

Rescuers managed to retrieve Parker’s backpack and gun, both which were badly damaged, but couldn’t get to his jacket, which was at an inaccessible point on the slopes far above Austin’s body.

High above, a lone mountain goat watched the rescuers work.

According to Morey, during Parker’s fateful descent of the mountain, he had bailed off the face of the ridge to get out of the lightning around him.

“He lost his way and went to the left of the trail, where he fell,” Morey said.

“The Park Service did everything humanly possible to find Austin alive,” Steve said.

“The tops of the mountains are remarkably navigable thanks to the monumental engineering task that it must have required to construct (Beartooth) highway. It gives a uniquely American feeling, one of humanistic triumph over the wilds of nature in even its most desolate places.” – Austin Parker’s blog, June 26

On an August day in the muggy heat of Valdosta, Austin Parker’s best and lifelong friend, Hunter Colson, lifted the bandages of his new tattoo to see how it was healing.

The tattoo, on Colson’s arm, was of Austin’s signature hat, and a gun, a cross, and his initials.

“Austin was the best person I’ve met in my entire life,” said Colson, 23, who became friends with Parker when they were 8 years old.

“He’s the kind of person that if I had a $1 million to my name in cash, I could leave him alone in the room with it for five days, and when I came back, all of the money would still be there. There’s not many people like that,” Colson said.

Colson’s father died 10 months to the day before Parker’s fall.

“Austin was the first one there for me. He was the reason I got through it … He called me within an hour of the news. He was crying as hard as I was. I would have never made it through without him.”

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