A Google executive hiking on Mount Everest was killed in an avalanche triggered by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people in the Nepal region on April 25, 2015.
Dan Fredinburg, the head of privacy for Google X and the leader of a project management team, suffered a fatal head injury, his sister said in a post on his Instagram account.
Two other Americans, base doctor Marisa Eve Girawong and filmmaker Tom Taplin, were also killed in the avalanche. At least 17 people, including Girawong and Fredinburg, were killed at Mount Everest, according to The Guardian.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fredinburg Was Hiking Mount Everest With Google Co-Workers When the Avalanche Hit
Fredinburg, 33, was with three other Google employees, who survived the avalanche, the company said. He had been on the mountain for about 23 days, according to his posts on social media.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal, and with Dan’s family and friends during this terrible time,” said Lawrence You, Director of Privacy for Google.
Fredinburg’s sister, Megan, said in her post about her brother:
We appreciate all of the love that has been sent our way thus far and know his soul and his spirit will live on in so many of us. All our love and thanks to those who shared this life with our favorite hilarious strong willed man. He was and is everything to us.
Fredinburg, originally from Arkansas, graduated from the University of California-Irvine in 2004 and later earned graduate degrees from the University of Southern California, Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley. He began working at Google in 2007. He also started a big data incubator in a former laundromat in San Francisco called The Laundry, according to Startup Grind.
2. He Helped Bring Street View Images to Exotic Places Like Mount Everest
Fredinburg was one of the founding members of the Google Adventure team, which brought Google’s Street View cameras to exotic locations, according to his LinkedIn page. He said on LinkedIn, that he “Lead team on expeditions farther into the wild, and bringing back stunning imagery from the planet’s most remote regions, including Aconcagua, New Guinea, Kilimanjaro, and Mt Elbrus.”
3. He Was Hiking For His Charity ‘Save the Ice’ a Year After Almost Being Killed in Another Avalanche
Fredinburg co-founded Save the Ice in 2014, a charity that is fighting climate change. According to the charity’s website:
We plan, support, and document high-profile adventures in climate change hotspots across the globe. These gatherings serve as summits for participating social entrepreneurs, millennials, investors, and activists to brainstorm innovative ways to combat global warming, all while surrounded by the natural wonders that climate change, unchecked, may destroy. Documentation of these exciting, often exotic Save the Ice trips – including films, photos, and social media campaigns – raises awareness about climate change beyond the participants, and in a format that appeals to millennials, the very generation that has the most power to make a difference.
Fredinburg was climbing Mount Everest as part of the charity’s Expedition Everest campaign. He planned to plant one of the charity’s flags at the top of the mountain.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal, and to Dan’s family,” says Save the Ice co-founder Dr. Mike North, in a statement. “We’ve lost a great friend and warrior for the planet.”
The charity’s press release said Fredinburg’s real passion was social issues, and he was trying to raise awareness about climate change.
“Dan was a mountaineer/explorer because he loved to climb/see the world, but that was never the whole point,” North said. “His purpose in the world was much bigger. Much of it revolved around calling attention to how we as individuals can make a difference.”
Fredinburg previously went on adventures for the charity in Northern Europe (the Viking Campaign: Circling the Baltic Sea) and Save the Ice: Save the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. He barely survived an avalanche last year, North said, but he was excited to try again.
“On his last walk through San Francisco, on March 27, I asked him how prepared he felt. Last year he’d started training 4 months in advance. This year, he hadn’t stopped training — since last year the avalanche through the icefall nearly took his life,” North said. “He was ready, mentally and physically.”
4. He Once Dated Actress Sophia Bush
Fredinburg dated Chicago PD and One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush from 2013 to 2014, when they broke up because they weren’t able to spend enough time together, according to People Magazine.
Bush posted on Instagram about Fredinburg’s death:
5. Google Has Launched Efforts to Help With Rescues & Recovery in Nepal
Google has launched its Person Finder, which helps connect people and families during natural and humanitarian disasters. The company is also working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the rescue efforts in the Nepal region and is donating $1 million to the response, You said.
Fredinburg’s friends have started a crowdfunding account to raise money for those impacted by the earthquake. Max Goldstein, who started the Crowdrise page, said:
Our friend Dan Fredinburg was climbing Everest on behalf of OrphanGift in support of two Nepali orphanages when the earthquake struck. Please donate to honor his memory and carry on his mission. All funds will help OrphanGift provide urgent aid for the children effected by the disaster and restoring structural damage.
Dan was one-of-a-kind. He was an incredible brother, a brilliant engineer, and a damn good man. We are devastated but simultaneously so deeply grateful to have known and loved him. We’re crushed knowing that there are over 1,000 people in Nepal suffering this exact feeling, knowing that they too will never hear another tale about an adventure lived from someone that they love. Disasters like this are often unquantifiable, the enormity is too much to understand. Please remember that each person who is now gone was someone’s Dan. Please remember that our time on this Earth is not guaranteed. Please tell those you love that you do. And please send a kiss to the sky for our friend Dan. His energy is so big and so bright, and it’s all around us, so put some love toward him today.