Hiker's death mourned by friends, family, social media

Published: Apr. 26, 2011 at 12:34 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 26, 2011 at 1:46 AM HST
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L.P. "Neenz" Faleafine
L.P. "Neenz" Faleafine
Ricky Li
Ricky Li

By Steve Uyehara – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family and friends mourned the hiker who died when he fell 150 feet off the Olomana Trail.

They identified him Monday as Ryan Suenaga, 44. Rescue crews said Suenaga died Sunday after falling off the trail.

Suenaga had been hiking with a group of friends when they noticed he was missing. As word of his death spread, tributes popped up all over the Internet, where Suenaga was well known among local Twitter and Facebook users.

"I have never seen Hawaii Twitter, Hawaii Facebook, being this sad," said blogger and friend Ricky Li. "Every other post today has been talking about Ryan, people looking up at the sky and saying, 'oh, even the sky looks sad.'"

Whether it was personal blogs, or any other social network, the Internet lit up as everyone said goodbye to their friend.

Suenaga was a social worker at Kaiser Permanente, and a caretaker for his mother, who has cancer.

But he also taught people about the power of the Internet, and answered any question that anyone had about computers.

"If you had any technical question, whatsoever, he had the answer, whether it was Mac or PC," said said blogger and friend L.P. "Neenz" Faleafine.

But while you might expect someone like that to be glued to his computer all day, that wasn't the case with Suenaga.

"He broke the geek-nerd mold. He was a hiker. He biked. He ran. He completed two marathons, countless 10K's, Aloha Run every year," said Li.

And forget about tucked-in shirts and pocket protectors: Suenaga had his own sense of fashion.

"His outfits were always Jams," Faleafine said. "A brightly colored, multi-colored pair of jams. And we're talking about Jams, not the recent ones, but the ones probably from the 80s, with any color t-shirt that probably didn't match."

Friends and followers were shocked when they learned about Suenaga's death.

Looking at his Twitter page, they can still see some insight to his final moments. And there's a strange twist: days before, he joked with a friend about how tough the Olomana Trail is, tweeting, "I hope I don't die."

Suenaga's legacy will live on. He recently helped to set up a scholarship with Kapiolani Community College for students who want to major in social work. But for now, the void he leaves will be impossible to fill.

"It's almost as if we're looking for him, and we just want him to reply to us one more time," Faleafine said, eyes red from crying.

Previous story: Man who died after falling from Olomana Trail identified

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