Police: Man identified in Mt. Bonnell death

AUSTIN -- Police identified the man who fell to his death at Mount Bonnell on Sunday as 32-year-old Omer Kaya.

Witnesses said they saw Kaya holding onto a branch before falling. Police said Kaya was trying to retrieve something he had dropped.

Austin Travis County EMS got the call around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

When medics arrived and rappelled over the edge, they found Kaya dead.

"Somehow the victim was too close to the edge, and witnesses did see the victim go over the edge," Austin Fire Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.

"He was just a special person. He was very energetic and always smiling, always, you know, when you call him for something he would be there," friend Guner Arsland said.

Arsland and Kaya met at the Raindrop Turkish House in 2007, around the time Kaya first moved to Austin from Turkey. The two became close friends, volunteering together helping Turks integrate into American and Austin society.

"He really liked the services we were doing here," Arsland said. "He was a firm believer in dialog, opening bridges."

At 785 feet tall, Mount Bonnell is one of the highest points in the city. There are barriers to warn visitors away from the edge, although they do not extend the entire length of the hiking trail.


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