Climber's body recovered

April 1, 2010 at 10:50 PM

SACRAMENTO, April 1 (UPI) -- The body of a climber who fell ill scaling California's Mount Shasta and died in a snow cave near the summit was recovered Thursday, authorities said.

The body of Thomas Bennett, 26, of Oakland, Calif., was lowered from the mountain aboard a National Guard helicopter, KTVL-TV, Medford, Ore., reported. Bennett's father shook hands with the crew members, telling them "thanks for bringing my boy home," the station said.

Mary Kenny said mountain climbing was the essence of life to her son.

"And now, to me he is eternally part of that life," she said.

Bad weather and a lack of necessary equipment had prevented rescuers from reaching Bennett, a chemical engineer, The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.

Bennett's climbing partner, Mark Thomas, had told authorities Bennett became sick and collapsed Sunday, possibly the result of altitude sickness.

Thomas put Bennett in a snow cave with food and water, and then descended the mountain to get help.

But high winds and poor visibility prevented rescuers from the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies from reaching him in time.

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