A Utah dad, who had recently become a member of the Seven Summits Club, spent his final moments achieving a lifelong dream of climbing Mount Everest before he sadly died on his way down from the 29,028-foot peak.
Donald Lynn Cash, of Sandy, Utah, was descending the mountain on Wednesday when he suddenly fainted due to high altitude sickness after reaching the top of Everest, according to Pioneer Adventure Pvt., the company in Nepal leading the expedition.
In a statement issued on their website, the company said that their supporting Sherpa guides attempted to help Donald, 55, by performing “immediate massage and CPR” in hopes to raise his oxygen levels.
Their efforts only worked temporarily, as Donald did gain consciousness for some time and was partially able to communicate, but he was unable to properly walk or stand, according to the adventure group.
Because of his condition, the local guides had to carry Donald down the mountain, but things worsened when he passed out again near Hillary Step, an Everest vertical rock landmark that’s 28,839 feet above sea level.
“His accompanying Sherpa Guides tried to wake him up, but he breathed his last,” the statement reads.
“Our team did their best to save his life,” they continued. “They waited there for more than two hours keeping their own life at risk. They hoped that he might survive and they could bring him down. But he was already dead.”
Though his cause of death is currently unclear, Donald’s children, Brandalin and Tanner Cash, told KSL TV they believe their father had suffered a heart attack and collapsed.
Before the incident, Donald had just achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a member of the Seven Summits Club. To be considered a member of the exclusive group, one must climb all seven of the highest mountains in each continent.
Originally from Novelty, Ohio, Donald worked at BMC Software as Vice President of Global Inside Sales up until January 2019, according to his Facebook page.
He had expected to take five months off on a sabbatical to complete the final two mountain ranges in the Seven Summits Club (Mount Vinson-Massif in Antartica and Everest) and then return to work in June, Cash wrote on his LinkedIn page.
“I’m excited to look for the next chapter of my career in June when I return. Safely. With all my digits,” he added.
Speaking to KSL TV, his children said that Donald had always loved a challenge and climbing Everest was something he had looked forward to for more than 40 years.
“One of the last messages my mom got [from him] was, ‘Thank you for supporting me in my dreams,'” his daughter Brandalin told the outlet. “He wanted to do this. He wanted to be on that mountain. He wanted to show that he could accomplish dreams and that others can too.”
“The last message he sent to me, he said, ‘I feel so blessed to be on the mountain that I read about for the last 40 years,'” his son Tanner added.
In the wake of Donald’s death, his children said their father’s body will remain on Everest.
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Donald’s tragic death marks the twelfth fatal incident to occur in the mountain range this season, base camp officials told The Himalayan Times.
In this season alone, Mount Kanchenjunga, Everest and Mount Makalu each had three deaths, while Mount Lhotse, Mount Annapurna and Mount Cho Oyu all had one.
Officials also noted to the local outlet that the descent became more deadly than ever this year.