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Hiker who died in Red Rock Canyon called ‘hero’

Sean Randles gave his life trying to save a life.

He died Saturday afternoon while trying to save a fellow hiker who lost her footing on a cliff at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, his family said Sunday.

Metro Search and Rescue recovered the bodies of Randles, 49, and Melanie Kushnir, 42, both of Las Vegas, on Saturday near the Pine Creek Trail, after others who were hiking with them contacted the police.

“Sean was the group leader that day — I know he felt it was his responsibility to make sure everyone got up and down safely,” Stephanie Randles, his ex-wife, said Sunday.

The group of six hikers was on the trail with the 52 Peak Club — Branch Whitney’s Hiking Las Vegas, family members said. Kushnir lost her footing, and Randles had almost pulled her up, and had told her, “You’re not going down,” but momentum caused both to fall more than 50 feet, the family members said.

All went well on the hike’s ascent; the group reached the trail’s peak. They didn’t get lost and there were no safety issues, Stephanie Randles said other hikers in the group told her.

But the hike turned tragic on the way down.

When Sean and Melanie fell — the other four hikers descended the trail and called for help. Emergency responders told the four that they did everything right. But by the time they got to Randles and Kushnir, they were gone, she said.

Kushnir’s family members, when reached Sunday, declined to comment. However, Randles’ family agreed to interviews.

Sean’s brother, Casey Randles, described him as “a giver and great person.”

“He passed away in his element,” Casey Randles said. “Sean basically gave his life to save the woman; it encompasses him.”

It wasn’t the first time Sean tried to save someone, Stephanie Randles said. She remembered him telling her about instinctively grabbing a fellow hiker who almost fell. It was a day he hadn’t even planned to go hiking, she said.

That was just who he was. So, the news that he gave his life trying to save another’s life did not surprise her, Stephanie Randles said.

“He was a hero. He truly had a good heart,” Stephanie Randles said.

On the GoFundMe page set up to raise money for memorial expenses, she wrote about how Sean was an avid hiker and loved every minute of it, “but there’s nothing he loved more in this world than his children.”

“My heart breaks for them as they must now learn to live life without their father that they all love so much,” she wrote.

All three children spoke lovingly of their dad.

Nichole Graves called her father her inspiration.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better human being to have in my life,” she said. “My dad was a happy person. I wanted to be like him my entire life.”

His son, Sean Randles Jr , said, “My dad brought joy to everyone he was around. I’ll miss everything about him.”

Kelly Randles said, “he was the most genuine person, irreplaceable. I love my dad, he was my hero.”

On the GoFundMe page, Stephanie Randles thanked donors for their donations “and all your heartfelt condolences.”

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, $7,830 had been raised.

Contact Raven Jackson at rjackson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @ravenmjackson on Twitter.

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