William Beinlich was a young man with an adventurous spirit, who rarely turned down a challenge, his best friend said Tuesday.
Beinlich, who grew up in Gurnee, was hiking a trail around the ribbon-like falls of Old Man’s Cave in southeastern Ohio Sunday, when he wandered off the trail, slipped and tumbled 60 feet to his death – ending up in a shallow pool, officials said.
On Tuesday, Beinlich’s best buddy growing up in Gurnee remembered him as an “adventurous kid,” who always had his back.
“He would just say, ‘I’m always there for you,’” the friend, Mike Cohen, 18, recalled. “‘You’re part of my family.’”
Beinlich’s grief-stricken mother said she was looking forward to her only child coming home from Purdue University for the Christmas holiday. Immensely proud of being a Boilermaker, Beinlich had bought his mother a Purdue sweatshirt for Christmas, she said.
“We always called him the best kid in the world,” Jackie Beinlich said.
Hocking County, Ohio, Coroner Dave Cummin said Tuesday that Beinlich died from a head injury and was was pronounced dead at the scene.
Jackie Beinlich said that at the time of her son’s death, he was spending the weekend with a friend from high school, whose family have a cabin in Ohio.
Cohen described his buddy as a straight-A student and standout wrestler at Gurnee’s Warren Township High School. When the two were in high school, Cohen was a wrestler and outweighed Beinlich by 70 pounds, but that never stopped Beinlich from challenging his pal.
“Me and his dad would always joke that pound for pound, he was the strongest kid I ever met,” Cohen said.