The death of a good man

Mike Darcy died doing what he loved - hiking

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Mike Darcy died after falling while hiking near Salmon on Saturday.

COEUR d'ALENE - For years, Mike Darcy was the face that often greeted guests at the city of Coeur d'Alene Recreation Department.

He was the man who helped organize everything from soccer to basketball to softball and flag football. He was the one who accepted the application forms and officially put the teams together for thousands of children, teens and adults.

"Mike would do what was needed to make sure the job got done," said Steve Anthony, recreation director.

He will be missed.

Darcy died Saturday in a hiking accident near Salmon.

He was 55.

Anthony said Darcy, a recreational specialist, was a respected and trusted member of the family at City Hall. He worked part time about five years before starting full time at the city rec department in 1990.

"We not only lost a close friend, but somebody you work with every day," Anthony said. "He was a good man with a good heart. He never said a bad word about anybody."

Family friend Dennis Hall said Darcy touched many lives through his work with the city's recreation program.

"He was the kindest, gentlest human being you ever came across," Hall said.

Darcy, an avid hiker and accomplished photographer, was near the top of Gooseberry Peak, elevation of 11,090 feet, when he fell about 100 feet, said his sister, Sue Hutter.

She said he recovered and continued to the top, but shortly after beginning his descent, stopped and called for help.

"He realized he had injuries," she said Monday.

Sue Hutter said her brother loved hiking to peaks in Montana and Idaho, and was meticulous in his planning and preparation. He would record the details of each hike - more of a "scramble" because they were so steep - in words and pictures on a hiking website.

"It's incredible, what he did," she said.

Reaching the top of Gooseberry Peak was one of his 2012 goals, Hutter said.

She was told by rescuers and investigators that Darby was about 300 feet from the summit when he slipped and fell about 4 p.m.

Hutter said details are unclear, but he managed to get up and continue to the top and was coming down when he stopped and likely realized he couldn't make it back.

"He was that way. He took a tumble and probably said, 'let's go.'"

With his GPS. it was easy locate him, but smoke from forest fires prevented the immediate use of helicopters. Around 7:15, Hutter received a call from authorities reporting that rescuers had reached Darcy, but he had died.

Rescuers stayed with Darcy until Sunday morning when the body could be airlifted out.

Hutter said her brother was quiet and humble and rarely talked of himself or his accomplishments. People, she said, didn't know much about him.

If they did, they would have known he loved to do things like watch his niece and nephew, Peter and Chloe Hutter, at their events. He was committed to his work.

And then, there was hiking.

"He really loved the peace of the wilderness and being on top of the mountain," Hutter said.

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