Dallen Young flew to Guatemala in March with plans to stay about 10 days.
But the 21-year-old, who grew up in the Tri-Cities and Spokane and had a love for travel and adventure, quickly became enamored with the Central American country.
He decided to stay, lining up a volunteer job and scoping out Spanish classes. He never got the chance to start.
Young died about 1 1/2 weeks ago while visiting nearby Nicaragua before his new job began.
He hadn’t been feeling well. Medicine from a local pharmacy didn’t help, and friends took him to a hospital after his condition worsened. He died April 7.
It’s been a heartbreaking time for his family, said his mother, Donna Young. But, she and her husband and three other sons are grateful for the help and encouragement they’ve received from relatives, friends and strangers, she said.
People have arranged meals, sent messages and pitched into help cover the cost of bringing Young’s body back to the U.S. and paying for a funeral.
“Our hearts are so full of thanks for all those people,” Donna Young said.
Dallen Young’s body is still in Nicaragua. The process of bringing him home involves significant paperwork, which was delayed as government offices there closed during Easter week.
(Was it) dehydration? Heat stroke? We just don’t know, other than he’d been sick and probably wasn’t eating and drinking as much as he should have. Bodies can only stand so much.
Donna Young, mother
Donna Young said she hopes to hear from officials Tuesday.
The family hasn’t learned exactly what caused Young’s death. He’d been sick a while back, after a trip to Mexico, and might not have been at full strength, his mother said.
She also suspects he wasn’t drinking enough water, especially in the hot weather.
“(Was it) dehydration? Heat stroke? We just don’t know, other than he’d been sick and probably wasn’t eating and drinking as much as he should have,” she said. “Bodies can only stand so much.”
Young spent his early years in the Tri-Cities, attending Ridge View Elementary School and Desert Hills Middle School. When he was in eighth-grade, his family moved to Spokane.
He became a Mead High School Panther and went onto Spokane Falls Community College.
Young was a “quirky, fun” young man who was trying to find himself, his mother said.
In Central America, he’d made a plan — arranging the volunteer position and finding a Spanish course.
“As much as I was nervous about having him overseas, he was doing what he loved to do: meeting new people and going to new places,” Donna Young said.
His Facebook page shows his love for adventure, with posts made from far-flung locales — on a plane bound for Peru, with friends in Spain, the Netherlands and Guatemala.
As much as I was nervous about having him overseas, he was doing what he loved to do: meeting new people and going to new places.
Donna Young, mother
Since Young’s death, people from around the world have reached out with stories about his good humor and kindness. He was the kind of guy who’d stay up all night with a new friend talking about women’s rights and global warming, who’d get the whole room singing happy birthday to someone he’d only recently met, or who’d drive through the night to be at a struggling friend’s side.
“We’re finding now that he’d be the one to message people, to call them (when they needed help),” his mother said.
“He was always trying to be a good friend. I don’t think he realized he touched people the way that he did,” she said.
Young’s survivors include his parents, Vaughn and Donna, along with brothers Ryan, Steven and Nathan and sister-in-law Cassidy. He also has a large extended family.
Memorial services likely will be in Spokane and the Tri-Cities, and Young will be buried near his grandmother in Kennewick. Service dates and times haven’t been set yet.
Donna Young said her son loved to play jokes and play with the family dogs, to follow politics and stay on top of the news. To experience the world.
She last saw him in the airport, as he was boarding his flight to Guatemala. She snapped some photos.
They show him wearing a new backpack and a big smile, excited for his next adventure.
To help the family, go to youcaring.com and search “Dallen Young.”