SALEM, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – A community in Utah County is mourning the loss of a Salem High School student who died while on a hiking trip in the High Uintas.
According to the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office, Julian fell ill during the trip on Thursday and complained he was nauseous and had a headache. With Julian still sick on Friday, scout leaders made the decision to hike back down to the trailhead. On Saturday Julian lost consciousness about 50 yards from the campsite.
One of the scout leaders called for help but by the time the LifeFlight helicopter arrived, Julian was already deceased.
“I’m still in shock. I’m still confused. It keeps hitting me over and over that he’s really gone,” said Cole Thurston, Julian’s best friend. “He’s one of the first people I ever knew in my life.”
Thurston, along with those who knew Julian best, spoke to ABC4 Utah’s Brittany Johnson on Sunday. Some of the guys are Boy Scouts and were on the hiking trip with Julian.
“It was shocking to see him all sick and stuff on the camp out,” said Thurston, holding back tears.
For some of these teenagers Julian’s death is the hardest thing they’ve had to deal with so far in life and say they are all leaning on each other for support.
“I think it makes it easier being around people who you love and knew what you went through so you can talk about all the good times the happy things about him,” said Hunter Ferre.
All of the guys took turns sharing their fondest memories of Julian. Each story was different but the way they described Julian was all the same.
“He’s probably the happiest guy I’ve met in my entire life,” said Kyle Larsen.
“Anywhere you saw him he always had a positive thing say to you,” said Ferre.
“He was fun. Always fun. All the time,” Thurston said.
Authorities suspect altitude sickness played a role in Julian’s death. A medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause.
Grief counselors will be available tomorrow at Salem High School for students and staff members.