A North Stonington family is remembering their son, 23-year-old Tom Steinbrecher, who was killed Saturday in a Utah avalanche.
Steinbrecher was one of four backcountry skiers killed in the avalanche, according to the Unified Police Department in Utah. The avalanche was the deadliest in the state since 1992, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.
"I would give anything for just one more hug," said Kerri Steinbrecher, Tom's oldest sister.
Tom was born in Westerly, Rhode Island and grew up in North Stonington. He is one of three children, younger brother to Kerri and Mary Steinbrecher.
Steinbrecher's family is remembering him for his infectious smile and big personality.
"He was goofy," said Tom's mom, Patti. “When he was in a room, the energy was stronger and more vibrant.”
Above all, Tom had a passion for the outdoors. He especially loved skiing. Tom's father, Lou, introduced Tom to skiing when he was 2 years old. From that point, he never stopped skiing.
Tom was a student in North Stonington Public Schools. He graduated from Wheeler High School a year early, determined to move to Utah and attend the University of Utah.
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“He was a young man who had his eye laser focused on what he wanted to do in life," said Peter Nero, superintendent of North Stonington Public Schools.
Nero said that Tom had to go before the Board of Education to have his early graduation approved. It was a unanimous decision.
Steinbrecher's dad said Tom graduated from the university with a degree in economics or math, but he added that the mountains were what really drew Tom to Utah.
"I think he also got his skiing degree at the same time,” said Lou Steinbrecher.
Tom was working as an operations analyst in Utah. His goal was to be a mountain guide.
Steinbrecher's family said that while he loved adventures, he was also cautious.
"Obviously there is risk in going backcountry skiing, but he was a calculated risk taker and they did everything right that day," said Tom's sister, Kerri. "It’s just kind of an unfortunate accident.”
Tom's family is still making sense of the tragedy. They said they find some solace in the fact that Tom died doing something he truly loved.
They hope others learn from his adventurous spirit and zest for life.
“I think everybody could be more like Tom," said Kerri Steinbrecher. “Tom would want everyone to live life to the absolute fullest because that is how he lived his life.”