Joel Tranby, an Oregon college student died after falling several hundred feet while climbing North Sister in the Cascade Mountains with his girlfriend early Monday afternoon.

Initially, Tranby was severely injured but was still able to respond verbally to his girlfriend, despite having landed at a place where they could not see each other.

Tranby’s girlfriend was able to use her phone to call for help. “Unfortunately, he stopped responding verbally before searchers arrived,” Lane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tom Speldrich told The Associated Press. “We are saddened by this loss of life and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

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A drone was used by the search and rescue operation to locate the body of the 21-year-old. Later, a helicopter was dispatched in the area to retrieve the body on Thursday morning, according to the sheriff. It was impossible to reach Tranby by foot due to the loose, steep and rocky terrain.

The rescue effort included an Oregon National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, apart from mountain rescue teams, a high-resolution camera and a small drone.

Who was Joel Tranby?

Joel Tranby’s Facebook says he was a student at Oregon State University. He loved the outdoors and was a key member of the community in Bend. He often helped his coach his former high school’s Nordic Ski Team. His parents said that they were “devastated by the loss.” 

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“Joel was doing something he loved, with the person he loved, in the outdoors and we know that brought him joy,” April and David Tranby said in a statement shared with KTVZ-TV.

“There are too many stories to tell right now that confirm how God truly did orchestrate the right people to come together and go up there yesterday and to guide them to look in the correct spot. The spotters from the helicopter were able to see Joel and confirmed that he is no longer with us. Joel has gone to be with the Lord,” Tranby’s mother April Tranby said on Facebook Thursday.