Friends remember hiker who fatally fell at Angel's Rest Trail
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office identified a hiker who fatally fell on Wednesday, Aug. 24, near Angel's Rest Trail as 20-year-old Kriss Arturo Garcia of Tualatin.
The county's medical examiner ruled Garcia's death to be accidental, officials said Monday, Aug. 29.
Garcia's body was found just five days after another hiker suffered a head injury in the Columbia River Gorge after falling near Wiesendanger Falls on Friday, Aug. 19. The woman, 62-year-old Jessica Warejoncas of Minnesota, was pronounced dead later that day.
A Multnomah County press release from Aug. 24 said a hiker saw what they believed to be a body at the bottom of a cliff on Angel's Rest Trail. A member of Portland Mountain Rescue happened to be on the trail, and they confirmed Garcia was dead that afternoon.
The county's search and rescue team was activated Aug. 24, but officials said the team was unable to recover the body until the next day due to the terrain conditions. Instead, the search and rescue team and a sheriff's deputy spent the night at the top of Angel's Rest, officials said.
On Thursday morning, Aug. 25, a second search and rescue team hiked up the trail to assist with the recovery. That afternoon, the search and rescue crew, with the help of the Hood River Crag Rats, recovered Garcia's body and returned it to the trailhead parking lot.
The recovery effort took 22 hours in total, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The original press release said Garcia was believed to be hiking alone, but no more information has been released.
Logan Thornhill, one of Garcia's best friends, said he's known Garcia since third grade. He and Garcia had been roommates at the University of Oregon in Eugene, too, and spent a lot of their time together.
"Kriss was the most selfless person around. He loved everybody inside and outside of his friend group. … He brought me endless memories, smiles and laughs," Thornhill said. "I'm incredibly happy that I got to call him my best friend."
Thornhill and Andrew Ingalls — another of Garcia's close friends — said they were happy they got to be home from college this summer and spend time with their friend.
"I've been away (for school in California) for so many months, and then it was nice because I had the whole summer with all my friends along with him," Ingalls said. "So definitely being back for the summer was great, because I could be with him and have some last few memories."
Everyone Ingalls has heard from about Garcia had nothing but positive things to say, he told Pamplin Media Group. He was always the funny guy making people laugh, he always had energy and he was always there for his friends, Ingalls said.
"He was everyone's best friend. With that kind of person, you just wish it was anybody else just because he was there for everybody. I don't even know how to put it into words," he said.
Jonah Amaya, another friend who met Garcia in third grade, said people always wanted to be his friend.
"It was cool to be friends with Kriss," Amaya said.
Amaya was also roommates with Garcia in Eugene, and he was there this summer when Garcia's friend group got together. Garcia was always the one to organize gatherings like that, Amaya said. Every year since they graduated high school, Garcia has scheduled a beach trip —sometimes including over 40 friends — to get together and reconnect.
Another of Garcia's close friends, Joshua Berk, said Garcia was the most generous, selfless person he knew. It sounds hyperbolic, he said, but Berk has yet to find anyone who comes close.
"It's less of an example, more like a motto he lived by," Berk said. "If he had two bites left of anything, or two sips left, you'd get one of them. If he had one, he'd just give it to you outright."
Anytime Berk needed anything, Garcia was there to help, whether it meant giving away his favorite bag or giving you some of his own food if you didn't like what you ordered at a restaurant.
The last thing Garcia would've wanted is to "put a damper on people's moods," Berk said with a laugh.
"It's just been really, really nice to share good memories rather than lament over the fact that he left too soon," Berk said. "Because we had, at least in my case, I feel like a lifetime full of memories, and anything more would have just been a cherry on top. So in my opinion, it is very important to keep laughing, because that's what he would want us to do."
Next year, Garcia would have been roommates with Berk, Thornhill and another close friend Camden Long.
Garcia, a former student at Mountainside High School, was also honored by friends and old teammates on the Mountainside basketball team, where he used to be team manager.
"You came to the gym every day with a smile and jokes. You would do whatever you could to make the team better," the team's Instagram post said. "You always knew how to keep it light and fun, giving everyone around you perspective — that we are a family and this game is supposed to be fun."
Even though he wasn't playing — Garcia was the team manager before graduating in 2020 — Ingalls said he was always cracking jokes on the sidelines.
"He was always around, and he felt like a part of the team just because of how fun he was and the energy he brought, even just to practice," Ingalls said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser for Garcia's family was set up Friday, Aug. 26, but it has been taken down as of Monday after raising $15,360.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from Kriss Garcia's friends and others who knew him.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.