Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 18, 2013

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


-- — “Do not fear. I must always return to my roots, my family, my friends, and other loved ones — because it is you that allows me to persevere when no one else thinks that I can do it or make it. You are, and will remain, my touchstones, beacons in stormy seas, and cool respites in the blistering heat that life can at times force us to endure. That fact will never change … I love and respect each of you, and I will see you again.” – Austin Parker’s blog, June 26

Remembering Austin

Steve Parker fought back tears as he remembered his oldest son’s tenacity and compassion. Three weeks after he got the call telling him his son was dead, on this particular Georgia Tuesday, the Parker family was trying their best to live life as normal.

“It’s been a pretty rough day today,” Steve said. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a good day again, to tell you the truth.

“This kid would light up a room the moment he walked in. I know a lot of people say that about their kids, but with Austin, it was true. He died way too soon. I would have jumped off that cliff a million times to save him.”

Steve pictured what it would have been like when Austin reached the summit of Electric Peak in the afternoon of July 16.

“You have to imagine — all he heard was the wind. He probably realized what an insignificant speck he was in this world, surrounded by God’s creation,” he said.

“He said to me on the phone the day before he went hiking, ‘Dad, this is heaven to me.’ Little did I know, one day later, he would be in heaven.”

“The (Beartooth) highway launches straight into the sky, unfurling into an expansive valley floor with mountains that seem to support the heavens themselves … an intricate series of switchbacks leads you straight up into that sacred hall of the gods on high, straight to the top of the very mountains that seemed impassible mere moments before … I have experienced a life-changing event that is indelibly marked on my soul.

“It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” – Austin Parker’s blog, June 26

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