Army Veteran Killed While Hiking Appalachian Trail Was Trying to Treat PTSD

Sanchez's family says he was battling the "darkness" of his PTSD and depression

Appalachian Trail
A veteran was killed hiking the Appalachian Trail. (Patrick Gorski/ NurPhoto via Getty)
By Ariel Scotti / May 15, 2019 12:30 pm

A veteran of the U.S. Army was stabbed to death while hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, according to the FBI.

The vet, Ronald Sanchez, was battling PTSD and depression sustained after multiple deployments abroad in Iraq, and one of the ways he coped was by getting out into nature, his sister told CNN.

“He was adventurous and he got out of his shell and we were so proud of that because for a while he was in darkness,” Brenda Sanchez Loera said.

The 43-year-old Oklahoma resident was the victim of a fatal stabbing allegedly carried out by 30-year-old James Jordan, who has since been arrested. He was identified by a female hiker who claims Jordan stabbed her as well before she played dead in the woods until the alleged assailant, who’s accused of threatening others on the trail as well, left the scene. The woman then trekked six miles to alert authorities.

“Jordan spoke to the hikers through their tents and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death,” said an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, according to CNN.

Sanchez’s sister said that Ronald suffered physical injuries on top of his emotional traumas that left him with back and knee problems that made his time spent outdoors that much more difficult but nonetheless rewarding.

“He was in a cycling group, he was showing horses, and on a dragon (boat racing) team and these were all out of his comfort zone because he was a really shy guy,” said his former wife, Elizabeth Kordek. “To survive those deployments in Iraq and to die like this is just devastating.”

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