Family seeks donations for search teams who found Emily Sotelo's body

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Dec. 1—The family of Emily Sotelo, who died while hiking Mount Lafayette on Nov. 20, is asking for donations to be made to the search and rescue volunteers "who risked their lives to bring her back."

Sotelo's body was found Nov. 23 after a four-day search on what would have been her 20th birthday.

Friends and family gathered Thursday morning at Saint Catherine of Alexandria Church in Westford, Mass., to say goodbye.

Her obituary lists the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, New England K-9 Search & Rescue, Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, Mountain Rescue Service and Lakes Region Search & Rescue as organizations to support.

"Remember to hike safely," her obituary reads. Fish and Game officials often promote the website in advocating for being prepared in the White Mountains.

"She would often recount her hiking experiences and the peace and happiness she felt on top of those ridges," said Sotelo's mother, Olivera, who planned to do a hike on Emily's birthday the day before Thanksgiving. Emily had hoped to complete all 48 of the 4,000-foot mountains in New Hampshire before turning 20.

"Nature embraced her, but in the end Mother Nature took her from us — leaving her spirit in the trees, flowers, and blinding beauty of the White Mountains, where she was put to rest," Olivera Sotelo said.

Emily Sotelo, who was a student at Vanderbilt University, dreamed of bringing advanced education and opportunities to the students at Dream Diné at the Navajo reservation in New Mexico where she volunteered, her mother said. She aspired to be a doctor.

Sotelo had a younger sister, Michelle, who also spoke at the service.

"You were taken away too soon," she said. "I might still be a little mad at you because you always told me you would have so much advice for me when I went off to college. But I know you will find your own special ways to tell me."

The family plans to start a foundation in Emily's name and work with hiking organizations to promote safety.