GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — A close family friend of the father and son caught up in an avalanche on New Year’s Eve talked with FOX31 and Channel 2 on Tuesday.

Nick Feinstein, 22, died in the incident but his dad, University of Northern Colorado President Andy Feinstein, survived.

“I got a call and they said, ‘did you hear about Andy and Nick?’ and instantly everything just falls inside of you and everything just sinks into your stomach,” Jeff Tori, a family friend of the Feinsteins, said.  

Tori was also Nick’s boss for two summers while he worked at 21st Century Painting, the company Tori owns.

“When his dad asked me if I would hire Nick for a summer job, I said yes’ and he right away said, ‘I want you to be hard on him,'” Tori said.

Tori said Nick was hardworking, intelligent and most of all kind. He shared one of his favorite stories with FOX31 and Channel 2 of Nick.

“I had an employee who didn’t drive so Nick, for those two summers, picked him up every single day, taking him to work, and took him home every night. This employee would give him gas money. After that second summer when Nick knew he wasn’t coming back, he gave me a card to give to that employee,” Tori said. “Nick had saved all that gas money and gave it back to the employee in a gift card to Trader Joe’s. That was the type of person he was.”

Nick was a graduate of Greeley Central High School in 2019 and was currently in his senior year at Penn State University, on track to graduate this upcoming spring.

“He had a job already. He was going to be coming back to Colorado. He was going to work back here,” Tori said.

Tori mentioned the Feinstein men loved to go on adventures together, like climbing 14ers and skiing.

“Any new adventure and any new challenge, they wanted to do it,” Tori said.

Tori was heartbroken and emotional during the interview and said the best thing he can do right now is support the Feinstein family as they navigate this tragedy.

“This world needs young people like Nick Feinstein, and now we don’t have him and that’s a tragic tragic thing,” Tori said.

Statements from Penn State, local school district

We at Greeley-Evans School District 6 are deeply grieving the passing of Nick Feinstein. He and his sister were part of the Wildcat Family at Greeley Central High School and an important asset to our District 6 community. To his loved ones, his mom and dad, and his sister, and all those who knew and loved him in District 6, we offer our sincerest condolences, and hope for peace and comfort in this time of great sadness.

Greeley-Evans School District 6

Sadly, we learned today of Nicholas’ tragic accident and passing. During this time of great sorrow, our hearts go out to his family and all who knew him. Nick, 22, was a 6th semester student in the College of Information, Sciences and Technology where he was majoring in enterprise technology integration. Leaders of Penn State Student Affairs are reaching out to offer support to his family and friends.

Penn State University statement

The father and son had accessed a backcountry area called the Numbers, outside the boundary of Breckenridge Ski Resort on Peak 10, according to Summit County Rescue Group.