Breckenridge teen’s life ended by hiking accident |

Breckenridge teen’s life ended by hiking accident

K.J. Hascall
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Michael Henthorne

SUMMIT COUNTY, 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 family’s 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 don’t have any regrets that I didn’t get to see him. I’m 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 high school 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 Noelle’s 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.

Beardsley said Henthorne was thrilled to be going to the University of Northern Colorado this coming fall.

Noelle Herrick 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 after the accident and 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.

“When he was about four, he drew me a picture of a sun and said: ‘It’s from your little golden sun-child,'” Linda Herrick said. “Another time he said, ‘Mommy, I’ll love you until the sun burns out,’ and he did love us that much.”

Summit Daily News News Editor Steve Lipsher contributed to this article.

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