"I thought it was a sick April Fools' joke." But Lexis Sweeney's Easter Sunday nightmare had no punchline. Sweeney's brother, Nathan Stowell, fell about 400 feet to his death Sunday while hiking on Mount Olomana in east Oahu. Stowell, who moved to Hawaii from Arizona five years ago, had FaceTimed with relatives after reaching the first peak of the mountain, located along the treacherous, 4.5-mile Olomana Trail, Sweeney tells Hawaii News Now. But on the mountain's third peak, the 24-year-old lost his footing shortly before 11am. A "kid's hat blew off and he told the kid, 'Don't get the hat. Let me get it,' because Nathan felt he had better balance," Stowell's friend, James Keener, tells KHON. He then fell some 400 feet.
Hikers tell KHON that the trail was muddy after a weekend of rain. By the time authorities reached Stowell near the base of the peak a short time after noon—firefighters had to rappel from a helicopter due to heavy tree cover, per the Honolulu Star-Advertiser—he was dead. A medical examiner later identified injuries to his head and torso. A handyman who loved the outdoors, "my brother died doing what he loved but it was literally a horrific accident," says Sweeney. It's hardly the first to occur on Mount Olomana. Three others have died in falls from its peaks since 2011. Most recently, a 53-year-old Florida man died in 2015 after falling 200 feet while moving between the first and second peaks, per the Star-Advertiser. (Read more Hawaii stories.)