Dordt College News

Mountainside storm claims student's life

August 16, 2010

Brandon Oldenkamp, who would have been a senior this fall, died in a climbing accident at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Wednesday, July 21. He was 21 years old.

“The loss of a vigorous young man in the midst of a joy-filled excursion is a tragedy that stunned our whole campus,” said President Carl E. Zylstra. “Brandon was an integral part of our campus, whether in the classroom, on the basketball court, or as part of our summer maintenance team.”

According to published reports, Oldenkamp was in one of three climbing groups above 13,000 feet on the Grand Teton mountains when a thunderstorm hit the area. Oldenkamp was reported to have gone over a cliff during the storm, and his party lost sight of him.

Sixteen other climbers were rescued from an exposed mountainside. According to a park spokeswoman, all of the climbers suffered injuries from lightning, including burns and neurological effects.

Oldenkamp was a native of Sanborn, Iowa, majoring in accounting. He was a member of the Dordt College basketball program and a two-time Great Plains Athletic Conference honorable mention honoree.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brandon’s family and friends,” said Dordt College basketball coach Ross Douma.  “Brandon was a great teammate who sacrificed much for our team. He was an exemplary young Christian man who did his best in everything he engaged in. We will certainly miss his presence, both in the basketball program and in the campus community.”

Oldenkamp was remembered in a memorial chapel held during the first week of the fall semester.

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