FORT COLLINS – When Kevin Reilly heard about the deadliest incident in the history of Mount Everest, he thought immediately about his 28-year-old son Luke who arrived at base camp there last week.
"You know, one prepares for this, but it was obviously a sick feeling," Kevin Reilly said.
Early Friday morning, at least 12 people were killed and four others are missing after an avalanche swept through an area called Khumbu Ice Falls located just above Mount Everest's base camp.
Luke Reilly is there as part of the expedition team for a Washington-based company called International Mountain Guides. Kevin Reilly says his son was uncharacteristically nervous about this trip because it is his first attempt at summiting the 29,029 feet.
"Safety is a huge factor although he lives a life of peril all the time," Kevin Reilly said.
After he heard of the avalanche, Kevin Reilly spent several uneasy hours until he received what he calls "the best text ever".
"Luke is kind of a man of few words," Kevin Reilly said. "He just said, 'I'm okay'."
All of the victims are Sherpas from Nepal. Kevin Reilly says his son had just finished a climb and was returning to base camp when the avalanche occurred. He says Luke Reilly had just travelled through the avalanche zone.
"So, I got to believe that Luke is involved certainly in some capacity," Kevin Reilly said.
He says Luke's friend Austin Shannon was one of the first responders on the scene. Kevin Reilly thinks his son also helped with attempts at rescue and recovery.
After the accident, many expedition teams decided to abandon their plans to summit Mount Everest, according to reports. Kevin Reilly says his son's team still plans to go to the top. But, he definitely has a message for him.
"Come home soon. Come home safe," Kevin Reilly said. "We love you."