Vigil held for hiker killed on Appalachian Trail


DAMASCUS, Va. (WJHL) – Dozens converged on Backer Park in Damascus on Thursday night to mourn the loss of a hiker killed on the Appalachian Trail last weekend. 

Police say 43-year-old Ronald Sanchez, Jr., also known by his hiker name “Stronghold”, was fatally stabbed along a section of the trail in Wythe County, Virginia. 

Sanchez was an Army veteran who discovered that hiking helped him cope with his PTSD. 

People made their way to Backer Park to show he won’t be forgotten. 

“I felt like it was important to show that support and solidarity mourn together as a group as well as enjoy the positive aspects,” said hiker Jessica Rundquist. “I never met him but just the fact that he was out here and doing it and loved it.”

“I think shock is really the main thing,” said Jordan Bowman with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “The Appalachian Trail is really a safe place but these things happen.”

Bowman tells News Channel 11 he spoke to Sanchez’s family and said they are upset by his death but are happy he had such a strong community surrounding him. 

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