by: Ken Lemon Updated:
CROWDERS MOUNTAIN, N.C. - As investigators work to determine what caused a deadly fall at Crowders Mountain, Mark Byers' family is remembering him as a man who loved to climb.
They told Channel 9 he was always so careful.
Byers’ family wants others to stay safe and climb with a friend.
Byers was supposed to go with friends this weekend, but he couldn't wait and Monday after work, he went up the mountain alone.
"He was happy. We were happy," his wife Roxanne Byers said
She said her husband, who was an avid climber of 40 years, was happiest when he was climbing.
"One of the last things he said to me was, 'Why do I love rock climbing so much?'" Roxanne Byers said.
While scaling a wall on Crowders Mountain Monday, he slipped and fell 60 feet, hitting his head on the rocks.
His rope ended up catching him 15 feet off the ground.
"He was safety first. He preached safety to everybody," Roxanne Byers said. "He would have never started climbing that wall if he was not secure."
Rangers are looking at his gear and they will go up the mountain with members of the Carolina Climbers Coalition to carefully inspect the area where he fell.
They believe they will finish their investigation sometime next week.
"If it was a mistake on his part, we need to share it with the others so that they don't make the same mistake," the wife said.
Family members waiting for answers said they can't be bitter about the way Mark Byers died.
Mary Byers’ daughter said, "This was his passion. He died doing what he loved to do."
Mark Byers’ sister-in-law Patricia Holmes said, "That's why he loves to climb the mountains. He liked to reach up."
They feel bad for the hikers who saw him fall and heard his calls for help.
Claudia Cardona tried to climb without gear to help him, but her friends stopped her and told her it was too dangerous.
Roxanne Byers said, "Mark would have felt the same way. He would have said, ‘You don't need to go up there. It's unsafe.’"
Tune in for more on this story on Eyewitness News at 5.
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