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Man dies after reaching peak of Mount Everest

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A man who grew up in Geauga County died Wednesday shortly after reaching the summit of Mount Everest, according to reports.

Don Cash.jpg

Image: Don Cash (Credit: Facebook)

For Don Cash, 55, now of Utah, reaching the summit of Everest completed his goal of climbing the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, NBC News reports.

Cash fainted while still at the summit, which is just over 29,000 feet, most likely because of altitude sickness, according to CBS News. Two Sherpas, guides who assist climbers on the mountain, were able to revive him and tried to drag him to safety at Camp 4 at 26,300 feet, but he again lost consciousness near the Hillary Step, which is still at 28,839 feet.

The Sherpas were unable to revive him, CBS News reports. Family members believe Cash might have had a heart attack, according to NBC News.

Cash’s children tell NBC News that he had lost fingers to frostbite on previous climbs, so he was aware of the risks of trying to climb Everest.

“He taught us that nothing was impossible,” Brandalin Cash, his daughter, tells NBC affiliate KSL-TV.

The Associated Press reports Cash said on his LinkedIn page that he left his job as a sales executive to try to join the “seven summits club” of people who have climbed the highest mountains on each continent. In January, he wrote, he climbed Mt. Vinson Masif, Antarctica’s tallest peak.

Cash’s Facebook page lists his current home as Sandy, Utah, but says he is from Novelty, Ohio, which is in western Geauga County and includes Russell Township.

Cash is survived by his wife Monette and their four children, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

He was not the only fatality on Everest on Wednesday: Indian climber Anjali Kulkarni, 55, died while descending from the summit, CNN reports.

There has been a notable increase in the number of people attempting to climb Everest, but it remains extremely dangerous. The area above 26,247 feet is known as the “death zone” because of the extremely thin air at that altitude, which can cause difficulty walking, increased breathlessness, confusion or loss of consciousness, according to livescience.com.

The large number of climbers created a “traffic jam” above Camp 4 on Wednesday as they made their way up and down from the summit, CNN reports, making the progress slow in the death zone.

About 300 people have died trying to climb the mountain. In 2014, an avalanche killed 16 Nepali mountain workers. In 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed 19 people at the mountain’s base camp, according to livescience.com.

In 1996, eight people died after getting caught in a blizzard near the summit in an incident made famous by the book “Into Thin Air”.

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