NEPAL/MENOMONEE FALLS (WITI) -- A 7.8-magnitude earthquake and the aftershocks and avalanches that have followed have led to a crisis in Nepal. Thousands died in Nepal alone, and the death toll continues to rise. Planes carrying aid materials and doctors and relief workers from around the world have begun arriving in Nepal. This, following the massive quake that struck on Saturday, April 25th.
30-year-old Benjamin Breckheimer is in Nepal, trying to climb Mount Everest. He's from Menomonee Falls, and his family tells FOX6 News he's currently at what remains of Base Camp 1 -- much of it wiped out after the quake.
Breckheimer is a former soldier who left in late March for Nepal. He got about 18,000 feet up when an avalanche hit.
Breckheimer's parents tell FOX6 News he had been planning this trip for months.
"Nine months ago he started a campaign to raise the money to go," Tim Lyons said.
"His goal is to do the seven summits," Breckheimer's mom Mary Lyons said.
Breckheimer took to social media early on in the trip -- posting photos of his arrival in Nepal and the first days of his trek. He had reached Base Camp 1 when an avalanche triggered by that massive earthquake sent falling rocks, debris and snow barreling into camp.
"He did not get specific. He just reiterated that it was bad," Tim Lyons said.
Twice on Saturday, Breckheimer called his parents in Menomonee Falls. Their conversations were brief.
"He and his guide had just come down from the mountain about five minutes before it hit and that a lot of people were running," Mary Lyons said.
"Said that the base camp was wiped out pretty good and he was okay. There was about 40 people injured," Tim Lyons said.
Group tents on Everest are now being used as medic tents as aftershocks remain a threat.
"I hope that he's been able to assist in any way that he can, being that he has a medical background," Mary Lyons said.
The avalanche wasn't Breckheimer's first brush with death.
"It's unnerving -- just like when he went to Afghanistan," Tim Lyons said.
In 2009, FOX6 was at the airport when Breckheimer returned home a wounded warrior. He was hit by an IED and nearly lost his leg.
"I just want him to come back home. This is worse than the Afghanistan thing. Then I knew he was coming home," Mary Lyons said.
Breckheimer has told his parents his Everest mission is over. He'll either climb down the mountain or he'll be flown out by helicopter.
"Just keep the people of Nepal in our prayers and our son obviously and all of the people who were on that mountain," Tim Lyons said.
Breckheimer was originally scheduled to return home in June. His parents aren't sure exactly when he'll be back, but they expect it will be at least a week -- maybe longer.
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