18-year-old planning Montgomery County father's funeral after tragic fall

Curtis Rice died in fall from cliff Saturday

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - An 18-year-old in the New River Valley is planning her father's funeral after he fell from a cliff and died Saturday.

Curtis Rice was rock climbing in the Big Falls area of McCoy Saturday night, when he tried to secure a hammock to a rock ledge, lost his balance and fell at least 40 feet.

“I think we're all just kind of waiting for him to walk through the door and he's not," Rice's daughter Ashton said. "He really helped me become the person that I’m going to be and that I am today."

She's also remembering her dad for his sense of adventure, his passion for the outdoors and his love for his friends and family.

"Everybody loved him. He never met a stranger. Everyone who talked to him was always so in love with him. He really touched everybody around him," Ashton said.

Curtis Rice was an avid hiker and climber who spent a lot of time on the very cliff where he had his final adventure on Saturday.

"He went up on that cliff almost every single day, every time the weather was good. He took me and my sister there a lot,” Ashton said. "It was very normal for him to do things like that so I’m glad he was doing something he loved."

Curtis Rice and his 9-year-old daughter Abbie bonded over their love for the outdoors, but for Ashton, it was a bond over music.

"As soon as he heard me singing them or humming them he would learn them so we could sing them together and that meant a lot to him,” Ashton said.

While Ashton grieves, she's also tasked with comforting her younger sister and planning her own father's funeral. He was self-employed and had no life insurance. Now community members are stepping up to help, raising more than $10,000 in 24 hours. Ashton said that overwhelming support is giving her hope.

"It’s very difficult and it's not something you expect to lose your 38-year-old father at 18, but we're working through it and figuring it out for everybody," Ashton said.

Click here for the GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.

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