Breckenridge teen’s life ended by tragic hiking accident |

Breckenridge teen’s life ended by tragic hiking accident

K.J. HASCALLsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado

Michael Henthorne was the encourager. He was fiercely protective of his mother and sister, and he told them to never sell themselves short. He was their fix-it man. He always cheered them up when they were sad and cheered them on when they were succeeding.His death Wednesday evening in a fall over a cliff south of Breckenridge is leaving a glaring hole in his familys lives and has devastated his friends.He was always nice to everybody, said Andrew Beardsley, who had played hockey with Henthorne since they were nine. He had a lot of friends.The last time his mother, Linda Herrick, saw the 19-year-old was just a few hours before the accident. She was driving in Frisco and saw her son skateboarding with his friends. The boys waved at her. Henthorne called her and told her they were going hiking. He sounded happy.We always said I love you on the phone, Herrick said. I dont have any regrets that I didnt get to see him. Im happy that… he was with his friends on a beautiful day doing what he loved.A 2007 graduate of Summit High School, Henthorne liked being outdoors more than anything else. He played on the 2006-2007 SHS football team his senior year, and also enjoyed fishing, hiking and skateboarding.Henthorne loved hockey so much that he once tied pillows to his little sister Noelles arms and legs, popped on a helmet on her head, and started throwing hockey pucks at her to teach her how to be a goalie so they could play together. Noelle Herrick does now indeed play goalie on her hockey team.In 2005, he played forward for a U.S. Junior Development Program team in the Three Nations Hockey Tournament in Romanshorn, Switzerland.Henthorne was sincere in everything he did, be it athletics or being a friend, his mother said.Beardsley remarked that Henthorne was always excited to do anything, and most recently was thrilled to be going to the University of Northern Colorado this coming fall.Since graduating from Summit High School last year, Henthorne had taken classes at Colorado Mountain College, said Noelle Herricks father, Frank Moya.He recalled watching Henthorne grow from a scrappy … young kid into a man who was growing into the world in quite a fantastic way and was really blossoming. The teen claimed a remarkable number of dear friends, Moya said. He was quiet by nature, but he had what I would call a mischievous sense of humor. Because of that, he always seemed to be smiling at a joke that no one had told yet. He was just a thoroughly cool kid.Many parents of the other hockey players thought of Henthorne as a son, his mother said, and she has been awed by the outpouring of support from the hockey family. Herrick enjoyed hiking with her son and still has on her mantle at home a white stone that they found together years ago at the Dillon reservoir. Noelle Herrick, his sister, said her brother was her hero. He attended her lacrosse games and would sit and talk with her about anything. He was sweet, funny and unselfish, and enjoyed spending time with his family, she said.I was so proud of everything he ever did, Noelle said. He was like my own Sidney Crosby or John Elway.Henthorne was hiking with two friends when the accident occurred about 5 p.m. Wednesday. It is not known whether he was aware of the cliff band at the bottom of the snow field.Anna DeBattiste, spokeswoman for Summit County Rescue, said the other two hikers made their way down a steep but negotiable grassy field to the side of the cliff. They performed CPR under guidance offered over the telephone by a Summit County emergency dispatcher but were unable to revive Henthorne. Twenty-one members of the Summit County Rescue Group responded to the call. Flight for Life arrived first and then left again to bring in more rescuers. A foot team arrived soon after.Henthorne was evacuated from the scene to the trail head two and a half miles away and pronounced dead from severe head trauma by coroner Joanne Richardson.His family and friends say they wont forget his energy and enthusiasm.When he was about four, he drew me a picture of a sun and said: Its from your little golden sun-child, Herrick said. Another time he said, Mommy, Ill love you until the sun burns out, and he did love us that much.Additional reporting by Steve Lipsher.K.J. Hascall can be contacted at (970) 668-4653, or at

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