A New Hampshire hiker who plunged 300 feet to his death while snapping photographs with his wife on a mountain has been identified as a beloved, deaf railroad engineer.
Joe “Eggy” Eggleston, 59, and his wife, Kelley, 57, were on the summit of Mount Willard in Crawford Notch on Saturday morning when tragedy struck, the Daily Mail reported.
“The hiker’s wife heard her husband yell and looked over to notice him falling over the edge of the mountain down a steep cliff that extended to the bottom approximately 800 feet,” the New Hampshire, Fish and Game said in a statement.
After Kelley called 911 about 10:30 a.m., members of the Mountain Rescue Service responded to the scene, where they rappelled down the cliff and found Eggleston about 2:30 p.m., NBC Boston reported.
His body was lying about 300 feet from where he fell.
Amid icy conditions and treacherous terrain, the rescue personnel carried the man’s body back to the Mount Willard trailhead parking area, where they arrived about 6:45 p.m.
Eggleston worked for the Mount Washington Cog Railway, where he was an engineer on a 1908 coal-powered steam train that offered scenic views of the largest mountain east of the Mississippi, the Daily Mail reported, citing Yankee Magazine.
Mount Washington Cog Railway said on its Facebook page that it was “still processing the terrible news over the weekend that we lost our friend and colleague, Joe ‘Eggy’ Eggleston, to a tragic hiking accident.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife (and brakeman) Kelley and his friends and family. Eggy, living gracefully with profound hearing loss since childhood, once said to us ‘where else could a deaf man fulfill his dream of running a steam locomotive?’” the railroad said.
“His passion for The Cog was evident to anyone who ever shared a moment, or a shift, with him,” it added.
A colleague, Andy Vanguard, also shared his thoughts about the tragedy.
“A tragic loss of a great man and a true Cogger. RIP to Joe ‘Eggy’ Eggleston,” the trainmaster wrote on Facebook. “Eggy’s warm smile and passion for what he did will always be remembered by those he touched. I’m honored to have shared a cab with him.”
He added: “His home will always be in these mountains he loved. Gone too soon, never forgotten. That whistle will forever echo off those peaks for you.”
Another colleague, Denise Biguin, said, “Mornings will never be the same.”
She added: “I was always greeted by that bright smile he shared with everyone. It was an honor to have known such a wonderful person,” according to the outlet.
Eggleston’s death comes about a month after 19-year-old Emily Sotelo, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, was found frozen to death at another New Hampshire summit as she tried to achieve her goal of climbing all 48 peaks in the state before she turned 20, Yahoo News reported.
Sotelo, of Westford, Massachusetts, was found dead on Mount Lafayette.