Mt. Ashland Ski Area staff described a co-worker who died Saturday as a “leader,” an “exceptional person” and an “important part of the Mt. Ashland family and community.”
Johnathan Patrick Likeke Walker, known as Johnny to his co-workers, was killed Saturday afternoon in the mountain’s backcountry after an accident involving a tree well. Walker was a 23-year-old ski patrol member.
Staff members’ grief and shock were sharply apparent after the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office released Walker’s name Sunday morning, having notified his next of kin.
“Johnny Walker was my close friend and co-worker,” said Ski Patrol Director Doug Volk in a press release. “He was a skilled patroller, always ready to answer any call of duty.”
He said that Walker was a surfer who “lived his life as if riding a wave, all that mattered was the moment and the turn.”
“He will truly be missed by all of our mountain community. His infectious humor, smile and good will left us too soon. Aloha Johnny,” he said in the release.
According to Walker’s Facebook page, he began work as a ski patrol member at Mt. Ashland in November 2015. His online presence reveals how much time he spent outdoors, doing everything from kayaking, surfing and skiing to felling timber and wildland firefighting.
The sheriff's office's updated release Sunday morning said that Walker had previously lived in Yakima, Washington.
Hiram Towle, general manager of Mt. Ashland, said in the Sunday release that Walker’s “drive and determination to be the best, no matter what the challenge, was an inspiration to us all.”
“He had a thirst for fun and adventure unlike anyone I have known. With his smile and charm you simply couldn’t have a bad day with Johnny around,” he said.