Family of hiker found dead on Camelback thanks rescuers at vigil


by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 10:23 PM

PHOENIX -- The family of a Seattle man who died hiking Camelback Mountain this week gathered Thursday night for a vigil.

Max and Sandra Fernandes wanted to thank the police officers, firefighters, park rangers and volunteer search hikers for their efforts in the intense heat.

Their son, 23-year-old Eric Fernandes, went hiking alone Saturday. His father reported him missing Sunday, and his body was found on Tuesday.

"I want to say thank you to each and everybody out here, from the police to the firefighters to the people who hugged us," Max Fernandes told dozens of people who came to the vigil at the Echo Canyon trailhead.

He told the crowd that he and his son came to Phoenix on a post-graduation vacation. Eric Fernandes was about to start a new job, and they wanted to celebrate. Hiking Camelback was the final thing on his itinerary, and he brought a hydration pack and water with him.

"I told him it was too hot,'' Max Fernandes recalled.

"Please just pray when you go up. Just say hi to my son because I'm not going to be here to say hi to him,'' Sandra Fernandes said to the crowd.

"I never knew how loving Phoenix people were, but my son came because he saw how lovely the people are and I saw it, too," she added in her message of gratitude to the search crews.

The family will return to Seattle on Friday.