Valley Teen killed by lightening while hiking near Flagstaff was a recently graduated honor student

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 21:43:15-04

The Valley teen killed by lightening on Wednesday has been identified as 17-year-old Wade Young.

Young was a recent graduate of Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe.  His friends knew him by his bright red hair and even more radiant personality.

“He would just come in with a big smile and call everyone their nickname and you could just tell he cared so much about you and made you feel so welcome no matter what,” said Dorothy Settles, Wade’s friend from high school choir.

His school’s principal, released a statement expressing sadness:

“Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all who knew this young man. I've been in touch with Wade's family to offer prayers and support from the Corona del Sol family…  Wade was very involved on our campus. He was an honors student and AP Scholar Award winner. He was president of DECA and a member of A Cappella, Red Kettle Club and the boys volleyball team. In April, Wade was recognized by Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell as a Tempe Top Teen.”
Young’s friends said he was in every activity he could think of and took his studies seriously.  He was planning to attend ASU’s Barrett Honor College to study business and had earned several scholarships.
“Definitely the most hard-working guy I ever met. He was in love with so many different things — his academics, his girlfriend, his work,” said Vamshi Avvari, Young’s friend in DECA.

It was no surprise that Young and two of his nature loving friends went to hike Humphreys Peak on Wednesday.  They started under clear blue skies according to friends, but quickly ran into trouble when storms closed in near the summit.

“This wasn't supposed to happen to them,” said Jordan Dragon, a high school friend who sang with Young in choir.

 The three teens were struck by lightening and Coconino County launched a rescue effort to the top of the mountain.  But it was too late and Young couldn’t be saved.

“I go in and out of, like, shock and sadness and just not believing it because I don't want to,” said Dragon.

Now, Young’s friends said his death should only be a footnote to his big life.

“This is really tragic but the thing is… his life wasn’t,” said Dragon, who is also planning to attend ASU’s Barrett Honor College this fall.  “I think now I just want to make him proud. Definitely in all I do I'm going to work harder and be better because that's what Wade  would've pushed me to do and that's what Wade would've challenged himself to do.”

Coconino County said the two people hiking with Young were a 17-year-old boy and 18-year old David Lyons of Tempe.  Avvari said he knows the two teens and they’re going to be okay with minor burns and cuts.