UTAH COUNTY — The family of a man killed in an accident at Bridal Veil Falls over the weekend honored his life Tuesday evening by gathering near the base of the falls to send off balloons and pay tribute to him.
Shantell Dansie was engaged to Adrian Vanderklis, with a wedding to look forward to. Together, the couple was raising three children, including a 9-month-old baby.
Dansie said Vanderklis loved to hike Bridal Veil Falls. Dansie and her 9-year-old son Gunner Taylor were hiking with Vanderklis the day he fell to his death. The Utah County Sheriff's Office said no one saw Venderklis fall, and they called 911 when they lost track of him.
Just days later, dozens of family members and friends came together to remember a man known for helping others, especially in the recovery community.
Dansie said just two days before that hike, Vanderklis asked Gunner if he could adopt his soon-to-be stepson.
"He’s a good guy, he's a good dad, he's a good friend," she said. "And that’s my person, and he's everybody’s person. And we just love him."
Gunner said Vanderklis loved him, and he was always there for him. Vanderklis wanted them to have a better life.
The 9-year-old looked up to the person he knew as "dad."
“And all you can see him by is pictures, videos, and that’s the only thing you can really remember by him," Gunner said.
Shantell said they had a good hike together as a family.
"We had a good hike, besides the fact he went down the mountain," Gunner replied, looking down as he spoke. "It’s just sad.”
Friends of the couple described how Vanderklis was CEO of the recovery group called Reincarnate, and worked to get addicts the help they needed. Dansie talked about how Vanderklis was a good at empowering people, and planting good seeds within them to help them do better in life. She hoped that those people would continue to water those seeds to grow after Vanderklis' death.
The family had just moved to Utah County from eastern Utah, and didn't yet have a home to live in.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe to help Shantell and the three kids.