WEST HOLLYWOOD — Matt Palazzolo, a well-known West Hollywood resident and activist in the LGBTQ community, died Tuesday of heat stroke while hiking and getting lost in the Australian Outback, according to ABC Darwin in Australia.
Palazzolo’s family confirmed his death on social media Wednesday.
Palazzolo’s friends expressed shock and sadness about his death on Facebook.
They remembered Palazzolo as a “beautiful person” with “passion, determination, and generosity of spirit.”
Palazzolo’s father, Pat, also posted on Facebook. The video Pat makes reference is posted above.
“There were times when I reacted with resentment when people acted or spoke badly towards or about my son Matt because of his sexuality. But he seemed to always react with compassion, love and understanding,” he said.
“He told me once that everybody has their own timetable for understanding what they previously didn’t understand,” Pat said. “But he was also a determined advocate for gay rights, determined to bring awareness and knowledge to those who didn’t yet have it.
“This video was one moment from Matt’s young life that we are all so proud of,“ Pat said.
HIKING IN AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK
Palazzolo, 33, was a member of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and the Christopher Street West board, had finished climbing Mount Sonder, a 4,265-foot mountain in Central Australia with a friend.
As they were descending the mountain and finishing the 10-mile round-trip trek in 108 degree-heat, Palazzolo ran off and took a wrong turn, according to ABC Darwn.
When Palazzolo’s hiking partner returned to a car park and didn’t see Palazzolo, the friend contacted authorities. Palazzolo’s body was discovered about three hours later in an area more than 1,300 feet from where he made the wrong turn, according to ABC Darwin.
DON’T RUN IN HEAT
The Larapinta Trail on Mount Sonder is a steep, rocky incline with exposed landscape.
“There’s no big shady trees and it’s very rocky, so when you’ve got a hot day like we had (on Tuesday) we’ve got a lot of radiated heat coming back off the rocks,” Chris Day of Parks and Wildlife told ABC Darwin.
Duty Superintendent Rob Burgoyne told ABC Darwin that, “We do know he had water with him, but he did do a very foolish thing in that he apparently ran away from his companion after the descent.
“It wouldn’t be a terribly advisable thing to do in (108 degree) heat, to actually sprint away,” Burgoyne said.
Authorities warned against embarking on the long trek in the heat because it comes with a high risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated, Day said.
“It’s almost physically impossible to put back the fluids that you’re going to lose as quickly as you’re losing them, and unfortunately people become dehydrated very rapidly before even realising that it’s even happening,” Day said.
“Unfortunately, it is too late, quite often, once people realize they’re in trouble,” he said.
FIGHTING PROP 8
On Facebook, Tom Crowe-Garey, who galvanized people in Long Beach to protest Prop 8 and crossed equality paths with Palazzolo, said, “Thank you (Matt) for always being a kind soul, a spitfire activist, and overall warm human being.”