On Feb. 2, Moab resident Hunter Kessler was canyoneering with friends when he took a 35-foot fall. The group was able to hike out to their vehicle and get Kessler to the hospital within a couple of hours; he’s now in intensive care in Grand Junction recovering from multiple injuries. Kessler’s fiancee, Charlotte Van Voast, has set up a GoFundMe page asking for donations to help with medical expenses and living costs while he’s recovering and unable to work.
Kessler and Van Voast met in Moab in 2019; he was working as a guide for local rafting company NAVTEC Expeditions, and she was working with the local affordable housing nonprofit Community Rebuilds. They’re now settled in Moab. Van Voast said the community’s response to the accident has been bolstering.
“Before I even posted anything I had so many text messages of support,” she said. “This is such a tight knit community—Hunter and I both really love it here.”
Joshua Richardson, a friend of Kessler and Van Voast who worked with Kessler at Paddle Moab, described him as caring, outgoing, and jolly.
“He’s the kind of guy you’d call if you were moving or something,” Richardson said. That caring attitude made him a great river guide: Richardson remembers Kessler saying during rafting trips that everyone on the river is part of a family—not just within the group, but all the boats on the river. Recently Kessler has been working for GearHeads outdoor gear shop.
Another defining quality of Kessler, Richardson said, is his love for nature and the outdoors. On the river, he loves flatwater and spotting interesting bugs as much as whitewater excitement. He’s also focused on mastering outdoor skills and being safe.
“He’s a safety-minded dude,” Richardson said. “Accidents are just accidents, and they can happen to anybody.”
Van Voast said Kessler is progressing well, but it may be months before he is able to return to work. While he has health insurance, the complexity of his care—he’s been treated in two hospitals in two states, and was transported by helicopter—leaves the couple uncertain of how much in medical expenses they’ll be responsible for. Van Voast said any surplus funds collected will be distributed back into the community.
“I know Hunter will be extremely grateful for any donation, no matter the amount,” Van Voast wrote on the GoFundMe page. As of Feb. 8 the page had raised close to $9,000 of its $30,000 goal. To donate visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-hunter-kessler-recover-from-his-fall.