Jake Matthew Parks would have celebrated his 18th birthday Oct. 21 if tragedy had not taken his young life on May 14, only three weeks before he would have graduated from high school.
Jake died from a heat-related illness. A trail rescue was initiated, and Jake was taken to the hospital with a body-core temperature that reportedly may have reached as high as 110 degrees.
To celebrate his life, Judi Weisbart, artist, social activist and community leader, has created a memorial for Jake. It will place at 1 p.m. Friday at McDermott Crockett Mortuary, 2020 Chapala St., Santa Barbara.
The art piece, an assemblage, stands six feet tall and is called “The Sacred Angel.” It is made from wood, metal and paint and includes ceramic signs honoring Jake and is a reminder of the love and loss experienced in a lifetime.
Despite their ongoing pain, his parents Todd and Jenni, his twin sister, Julia, and older brother, Jesse, have found a way to have something positive come out of the tragedy.
Abby Gaston and 16-year-old Girl Scouts from Troop 50886 took on a project to create a safer trail experience for all hikers. With the help of Ashlee Mayfield and the Montecito Trails Foundation, signs are going up on the trails in the near future.
These signs will be placed at local front-country trailheads providing information about the causes, symptoms and required treatment for heat stroke and heat exhaustion as well as preparations to prevent those conditions while hiking.
Additional emergency boxes are being considered to be placed along the trails with reflective blankets, water and electrolyte packets with hopes that tragedies like Jake’s death can be prevented in the future.