A 22-year-old man killed in an avalanche last month at a New Mexico ski resort was honored in an extra special way on the day he died.
Corey Borg-Massanari, a student in Colorado, was one of two men trapped under the snow for more than 20 minutes on Jan. 17 after snow came tumbling down a mountain at Taos Ski Valley, according to WLKY. He died days later on Jan. 21.
Borg-Massanari was an organ donor and, just before taking his final breath on life support, Borg-Massanari was wheeled through the halls of University of New Mexico Hospital in its first-ever “organ donor walk of honor.”
“It was truly incredible,” a hospital spokeswoman tells PEOPLE. “[The family was], of course, devastated with the loss of their son. But, having lost their son, it was the only good thing that could have come from his death.”
Video of the event shared on Facebook showed hospital staff standing solemnly and Borg-Massanari’s family walking behind his bed as it was taken to the operating room.
“Taos Avalanche victim Corey Borg-Massanari and his family were honored by UNM Hospitals employees for his final act on this earth – to give life as an organ and tissue donor,” hospital officials wrote in the Facebook post.
“Hundreds of medical and support staff lined the hallway in silent and at times tear-filled attention for UNM Hospital’s first ‘Organ Donor Walk of Honor’ as the ICU bed carrying Corey was wheeled to the operating room for the recovery of life-saving organs. #DonateLife #WalkofHonor.”
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The spokeswoman says the tribute walk was Borg-Massanari’s idea, and they remembered the Colorado student as a “loving, giving person.” His family is encouraging the public to become organ donors, according to KOAT.
“Corey brought joy to many and will continue to bring joy to others through his life-saving gift of organ donation,” the family reportedly told WLKY in a statement announcing his death last month.
Witnesses described the scene to KOAT as a “very scary situation.” Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson was also present during the incident, the outlet reported. He said the snow was “more like concrete.” Johnson told KOAT he saw rescue crews looking through the snow for anyone trapped with 10-foot poles.
Officials with Taos Ski Valley wrote in a tweet that the avalanche of occurred around 11:30 a.m. off the K3 shoot of Kachin Peak.Matthew Zonghetti, 26, died shortly after the incident and Borg-Massanari was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
In the wake of his death, Borg-Massanari’s grandmother, Deb Bowers Borg, remembered him in a since-deleted Facebook post.
“The mountain took his life unexpected with an avalanche while skiing in New Mexico,” his grandmother wrote in the post.
“I am so proud of this young man and the impact that he has left on so many lives. You will be missed here on earth but we will all see you later in our journey. Please keep his family in your prayers.”
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