A Montana man taking photos at a national park died when he fell into a creek, was swept through a culvert and plunged off a steep cliff, officials said.
Robert Durbin, 26, was on a family vacation to Glacier National Park when he slipped into Haystack Creek on the upper bank of the Going to the Sun Road at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the National Park Service said.
The Corvallis man was washed through the culvert that goes underneath the road and empties off a cliff, sending Durbin falling about 100 feet below the roadway, authorities said.
Park rangers and Two Bear Air Rescue immediately responded, closing the road to traffic to retrieve Durbin. He died at the scene.
The avid outdoorsman, who often photographed the nature around him, had been taking pictures when the tragedy occurred.
“[The] beloved brother, uncle, cousin and friend passed away doing some of his many passions, exploring the outdoors and spending time with the people he loved,” his obituary read.
He was a hard worker who put his family and friends above all else, according to loved ones coming to terms with the devastating shock of his death.
“Robert was the best kind of person you could have known,” his obituary read. “He was the kind of person that would go above and beyond to help anyone or anything no matter what. He had a heart of gold and always took care of everyone around him with that wonderful smile on his face.”
Durbin graduated from Hamilton High School and worked at Ironhaus in Hamilton, a company specializing in building custom fireplaces and hearths.
“He will be greatly missed,” the obituary continued. “He touched more lives in his short time with us than some touch in their whole life. He had an uncanny ability to reach people in a deep and positive way.”
On a GoFundMe page created to offset funeral costs, relatives released what’s believed to be the last photo ever taken of Durbin, who can be seen smiling near a sign for Heavens Peak, the highest peak in Glacier National Park. He was wearing flip flop sandals in the photo, which his brother said was believed to be the footwear on his feet when he slipped.
“He wasn't wearing the proper shoes for that,” William Durbin told the Missoulian. “I was told he had flip flops on. It was something silly, but I've done it. My son has done it. It was just an unfortunate accident."
Officials said an investigation into the incident is ongoing, but noted no suspicious circumstances have been found. Falls are a leading cause of death at the park.
“The park extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends,” the National Park Service said in a statement.