Authorities said Nathan Kanczes lost his footing and fell from the Cove Rocks outcropping in Somerset County around noon on Monday

By Char Adams
July 18, 2019 11:51 AM
Credit: Norwin High School Band

A Pennsylvania community is mourning a 15-year-old boy who died on Monday after falling at least 50 feet from a tall rock formation during a YMCA camping trip in Somerset County, reports say.

Nathan Kanczes was attending Teen Wilderness Camp through YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Fort Hill on Monday when he fell from a remote outcrop called Cove Rocks, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a statement from the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

Authorities responded to the call of a “long fall from rocks” around 12:22 p.m. local time.

“They told me he had his rappelling ropes on, fell and died,” Nathan’s father, Bill Kanczes told the Tribune-Review, calling Nathan a “camp guy.

He added, “Nathan was a good kid. He took care of everyone.”

Nathan Kanczes

Nathan was airlifted to Conemaugh Meyersdale Medical Center where he died from his injuries, YMCA officials said in the statement. The Somerset County coroner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.

“We are devastated by this tragic loss and our hearts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time,” YMCA officials said in the statement. “Our primary concern is for the child’s family and the emotional well-being and safety of our campers and staff. Wilderness Camp has been canceled for the remainder of the week. Counseling services have been made available for campers and staff.”

Leslie Truver said she was attending the camp with her children when the incident occurred, explaining, “It was horrifying,” according to WPXI. Nathan was a sophomore at Norwin High School and was a member of the school’s band, according to a Facebook post from the group.

“He was a baritone player in the band, beginning his sophomore year,” officials wrote in the post. “Nathan was a wonderful individual and will be much missed by those who knew him. He always had a smile on his face, a positive outlook, and was a very kind person.”

Camp and YMCA staff are cooperating in the investigation.

The camp was canceled for the rest of the week with counselors available for both staff and campers, according to the Tribune-Review.

Nathan’s classmates remembered him in the wake of his death, with 16-year-old Maria Ditoppa telling the Tribune-Review that he was dedicated to band.

“I’d see him at practice all the time and he’d always have a smile on his face,” Ditoppa said. “He would always be on the field, he would never complain about practice. He would always stick through the whole thing and never complain.”