Lifestyle & Human Interest

'He Didn't Die for Nothing': Father Dies Trying to Save Boys After They Fall Off Cliff During Hike


On April 22, the Acord family from Grant’s Pass, Oregon, was setting out for an adventure — one that would end in tragedy.

Dad Ryan, mom Jordan, their sons — Kade, Liam and Knox — and one of their son’s friends, 8-year-old Nolan Haptonstall, headed out for a hike to Secret Beach near Brookings, according to a GoFundMe set up for the family. The family had fallen in love with the area since their move in 2022 and were avid outdoor explorers.

On this particular day, they were using Google Maps to find the trailhead, but according to Curry County Sheriff John Ward, it led them astray.

“They followed Google Maps and it pointed them in the wrong spot and they thought they were in the right spot so they parked and went down the wrong trail,” Ward told KOBI-TV.

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Instead of a hike to Secret Beach, they were unknowingly on the Thunder Cove trail.

“The trail was easy enough up until approaching the waterfall where the trail became treacherous,” said the GoFundMe page set up by Jordan Acord’s sister, Abigail Leonard. “At this point, it was too late and tragedy unfolded before their eyes.”

Two of their sons and Nolan headed over a rise that they didn’t realize was going to turn into a drop-off.

“They got in a situation where they had to yell at the three kids, two were family and one family friend, they stopped they were out in front but by the time they yelled at them to stop they were already too late they had already fallen over the initial portion of the embankment,” Ward said.

Ryan Acord tried to follow them to help but slipped and fell to the rocky beach below. His wife was left to call for help after witnessing the horrible event.

“The U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter arrived and lowered a rescue swimmer down to the beach and eight-year-old Nolan was air lifted and flown to Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach where he was attended to and then flown by Air Reach to OHSU in Portland,” Curry County Justice shared in a Facebook post Monday.

The 36-year-old Ryan Acord did not survive.

“The U.S. Coast Guard then returned to the beach area and was able to air lift the body of Ryan Acord to the Brookings airport where he was released to Redwood Memorial,” the post said.

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“SAR members were able to rappel to the other two juveniles that had fallen down the steep embankment, but not over the edge and bring them back to safety.

“Twelve-year-old Kade Acord, who had fallen off the upper portion of the trail was hanging onto a small tree stopping him from falling the rest of the way, was transported by Cal Or Life Flight Ambulance to Curry General hospital where he was attended to and released to his mother.

“Eight-year-old Liam Stidham, who had fallen of the trail in the upper portion was uninjured and released to his mother, Jordan Acord.”

The two boys in the Acord family were spared serious injury, but Nolan remained in the hospital for surgery to address his injuries, which include a skull fracture. A GoFundMe was set up to assist Nolan’s recovery, and as of Friday afternoon, people had donated almost $13,000 to his cause, which had a goal of $10,000.

Acord is being remembered for his love of fun and family. His dedication to helping the boys in peril — even to his own death — spoke volumes of his upstanding character.

“Ryan lost his life doing what he loved most, he didn’t die for nothing, he risked his life to save a child who is now stable and is going to survive,” the fundraiser page stated. “Ryan was a courageous, brave, brilliant, adventurous husband and dad, he will be missed dearly.”

Jordan Acord said she plans to move back to Arkansas, where they have family, so not only is the family grieving the loss of their husband and father, but they’re trying to get ready to move. So far, their GoFundMe has received more than $24,000 in donations toward a goal of $30,000.

Acord said that although this time has been incredibly difficult, she has felt supported by their community.

“I want to share how deeply my family and I appreciate all the prayers, kind words, and the incredible amount of meals and donations we have received,” she posted on Facebook.

“We feel the power of love and prayer and it has helped us so much. God Bless you all.”

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