Josh always seemed larger than life. He was younger than me, part of the cluster of boy cousins that included my brothers, all fairly close in age, who were so close that they were more like siblings. Josh was scrappy when he was little, often the most likely to break your toys, and his curiosity, intelligence and fearlessness often got him into trouble. He grew up to be an amazing man, living the kind of frontier life most people don’t even know is possible these days: underwater welder in the Gulf, followed by a tour of Europe with his sister using the money he made doing hazardous work, and eventually “settling down” with his wife and little daughter back in Alaska, near his immediate family. Of course, by “settling down” I mean he did relaxing things like the Iron Dog sled race.
His latest adventure was starting a gold-panning business with a friend. Last night, so I’ve been told, working with the late Alaskan sun, he put on his weighted dive suit and waded out into a stream with a strong current. [Edit – a more accurate take is in the comments here; this post has been corrected accordingly]
At some point he came up for a breather, took off his helmet, and lost his footing in the treacherous waters.
“He went into the water and misjudged the force of the current. As a result he lost his footing and clung to the equipment on the bottom. He was unable to hold on and was swept downstream, where his air line snapped.”
I probably don’t need to say much more than that. Getting the call this morning, it was like hearing that a legend had died.
Josh leaves behind a wife and two daughters, one due to be born within a month or so; a mother, who already lost his younger brother several years ago; sisters, nieces and nephews; aunts and uncles who just as often felt like his parents and cousins, many of whom were more like brothers. A parent now, myself, I can’t imagine losing one child, let alone two. If you folks could say a few prayers for his family, especially for his mother, I know they’d be appreciated.