Kristen Yoder, 21, a senior parks and recreation management major at NAU, died last week during a mountain climbing expedition in the Andes mountains in Peru, along with her brother Dustin, 23, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from NAU in December.
Kristen was born Nov. 6, 1985, and Dustin on Sept. 28, 1983, to Ken and Kathy Yoder of Tucson. Both graduated from Sabino High School.
Kristen, a trip leader for NAU Outdoors, was featured in a story in Inside NAU last fall for her role in rescuing a distressed hiker in the Grand Canyon.
“Kristen was one of the safest and most respected outdoor professionals here,” said Nick Hagemann, a coordinator with NAU Campus Recreation Services. “She showed unbelievable leadership abilities and went out of her way to help others. It’s a big loss for us here.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Andy Bourget of NAU Outdoors. “Kristen was a dynamic and special person,” he said. “She brought a positive environment to trip-leading and to life in general; she will be missed tremendously.”
Dustin worked at Peace Surplus in Flagstaff throughout college, and had a “great attitude and upbeat perspective,” said Joe Anderson, who was Dustin’s academic advisor and teaches management classes in the College of Business Administration. “He was well-prepared, thoughtful, did good work and was well-liked. I was pleased to know him, and he will be greatly missed.”
Pam Foti, chair of Geography, Planning and Recreation, remembers Dustin, who minored in parks and recreation management, as thoughtful, reflective and intelligent. “He was avid about outdoor activities and the opportunity to explore,” she said. “He was someone you could trust in the outdoors and I considered him to be an excellent outdoor leader.”
A third hiker, Brennan Larson, a 24-year-old geology major at Brigham Young University, also died in the incident.
Services for the Yoders have not been announced.