PORTLAND, OR (August 15, 2017) – Nineteen-year-old Emma Place, daughter of First Covenant Church pastor Kent Place and his wife Janice, died Saturday when she and a friend apparently slipped and fell while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on Mt. Hood Saturday. Place’s friend, Emily Lang, 19, also perished.
The two women fell roughly 150 feet near a waterfall, authorities said. Other hikers found their bodies late Saturday afternoon.
Emma is being remembered by friends for her commitment to Christ and serving others. She was one of four teens whose mission trip to India was documented for Project Blue at CHIC 2015.
Friend Nathan Hoppenrath, who had traveled to India and worked at camp with Emma, wrote on his Facebook page, “Growing up with Emma Place has been an honor. She actively lived a life that was truly Christ like. She was the most kindhearted, caring, and down to earth person I have ever met. Her smile was contagious and her laugh brought joy to every room. Her hugs comforted anyone who needed it and she was loved by everyone she came into contact with.”
In an online Companion interview at the time, Emma said, “As followers of Jesus, we need to do something to change the suffering people endure. Those who are most seriously affected by this issue (the lack of clean water) are those in the lower castes of India. These people are treated like they do not matter, and they are constantly reminded of their social status through discrimination and injustice. By providing clean water for them through pumps and wells, it enforces the idea that they do matter and are loved by God.”
Rob Mohrweis, associate director of the Covenant-affiliated Cascades Camp and Conference Center in Yelm, Washington, told TV station KATU, “[Emma] was full of life and joy. She always had a smile on her face.”
Emma had finished serving as an adventure guide at the camp two weeks ago and was looking forward to returning to her studies at Gonzaga University in the fall. “We’re grieving together today as a community and mourning her loss. Comprehending that it’s even real. I distinctly remember her on her last day coming up to me and giving me a big hug, telling me how much she loved serving with us this summer and how excited she was to be back.”
Emma is survived by her parents and three sisters, Erin, Laura, and Abby.
No services have been set.