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Vancouver Island father dies after falling from bunkbed in Guatemala

Man leaves behind a two-year-old daughter
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Nash Hellwig, 22, fell to the floor from the top bunk of his hostel bed in Antigua, Guatemala, and sustained excessive bleeding in his liver. (Hellwig family photo)

Natasha Baldin/Contributor

Future needs are “huge and unknown” for the friends and family of a young Saanich father who died unexpectedly while on a trip to Guatemala.

A close friend launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the family’s financial needs while recovering from the loss.

Nash Hellwig, 22, fell to the floor from the top bunk of his hostel bed in Antigua, Guatemala, and sustained excessive bleeding in his liver. Hostel owners and fellow guests sprang to his aid and some even stayed with him at the hospital.

He was transferred between two hospitals for scans and treatment and was rushed to emergency surgery. He was then transported to the ICU, where he went into cardiac arrest due to excessive blood loss. Despite 45 minutes of resuscitation attempts, Hellwig did not survive.

“Trying to navigate this tragic situation from afar in an unknown country, with different language, culture, and processes, has taken its toll on the family,” wrote Stirling Fraser, a close friend of Nash’s family who launched the GoFundMe page.

Funds raised in the campaign will go toward travel and medical costs in Guatemala, bringing Nash’s body back to Canada, supporting funeral costs and assisting his two year-old daughter Saylor Joanne Thornhill, whom he calls “Missy Moo,” in future years.

Saylor lives with her mother in Campbell River and Hellwig visits them whenever he can. He was planning to visit when he returned from his trip “with all sorts of stories and adventures,” according to the GoFundMePage.

Nash worked as a ramp attendant for Air Canada Jazz at the Victoria International Airport and one day hoped to become a deckhand on a superyacht.

As of Thursday morning, more than $20,000 had been raised.

Nash’s mother Jo-Anne wrote she is “overwhelmed by the incredible generosity” in an update on the GoFundMe page. She added she is currently in Guatemala City waiting to find out when she can take her son’s body home.

“I hope Nash is looking down upon you all, and realizing the love was there for him, and for his family,” she wrote.

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