Darien resident Harry Amyotte, 55, died Saturday in Colorado while hiking with his family, according to Bruce Evans, fire chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District. Evans said the coroner had confirmed the cause of death was heart attack. His daughter Marin told The Darien Times he died of an undiagnosed genetic heart condition.
Evans told The Darien Times the Amyotte family was very experienced in back country hiking and Mr. Amyotte had taken his children, Marin and Matthias, back country hiking since they were five.
The family, including his wife Kathryn, had entered the Purgatory ski area and headed to the Chicago Basin, which includes “spectacular trails,” Evans said.
“They were fully outfitted and done everything properly. They even waited a day in the back country to get acclimated to the altitude. They knew what they were doing,” he said.
Evans said the family said Mr. Amyotte didn’t complain of any discomfort before he collapsed on the trail.
“We had just reached a very rare and beautiful meadow after a full day of hiking, when Dad collapsed as if he had fainted. He started to try to get up, and I urged him to stay down because I could see that he was losing consciousness,” Marin shared with The Darien Times.
The family had no cell service so Mr. Amyotte’s son, Matthias, ran over eight miles down the trail in just over an hour until he was able to dial 911, Marin told The Darien Times.
The family performed CPR on Mr. Amyotte for two hours waiting for help to arrive. Due to the remote area, it took the helicopter 30 minutes to arrive after the 911 call.
“We had no idea how much time was passing while we did CPR — we just decided to keep going until the helicopter arrived because we didn’t want to give up,” she said.
Marin, Kathryn and Matthias’ partner, Mia, continued CPR while trying to keep Mr. Amyotte warm and dry throughout rain and hail.
“The helicopter arrived over 2 hours after Dad had lost consciousness — and the helicopter arrived only to confirm our worst fears, even though we had frantically, desperately kept at the CPR for those hours. The EMT team told us that we had done the CPR as well as we could possibly have done,” Marin said.
Part of the reason they continued CPR for as long as they did was so in the worst case scenario, Mr. Amyotte’s organs could be donated.
Mr. Amyotte was a 9/11 survivor and had been in World Trade Center building 7 when the terrorist attack took place, Evans said.
He added that it took about 12 hours ultimately for the family to be assisted out of the wilderness after Mr. Amyotte’s death — as they had been about 12 to 15 miles in.
“We had to hike, in the dark, through river crossings over our knees, in the rain with the search and rescue team for five hours to get to a service shelter to spend the night — Making it a 20-mile day,” Marin said.
“It was a long hike out after spending two hours doing CPR. It was a pretty courageous effort on all their parts,” Evans said. “These were really nice people — and a very tight family.”
“It was very sad, but if it is any consolation, he was out doing what he loved to do — and had his family by his side,” Evans said.
Mr. Amyotte worked at Scotia Bank as Director of Global Loan Syndications in New York City. He was a professional photographer and active at Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien and a tenor in the choir. His wife, Kathryn, a professional singer, also sings in the church’s choir. She is a private voice instructor.
Mr. and Mrs. Amyotte just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary and saw their daughter, Marin, get married in June.