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Heidi Montag's stepbrother killed while cleaning snow from roof

By Christopher Rocchio, 03/03/2008 

Eric O'Hara, the 24-year-old stepbrother of The Hills' co-star Heidi Montag, died on Thursday in his native Steamboat Springs, CO.

A member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division who had done combat missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan before being discharged a month ago, O'Hara fell from the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel's icy roof while helping to remove snow, the Rocky Mountain News reported Monday.

"Having made it through 15 months in Iraq, and then to have this happen... it's really tough," O'Hara's uncle, Dave Patston, told the News.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg told the News that O'Hara was cleaning snow off the roof of the Colorado resort where he was employed when he released a safety clip to more easily move along a rope he was attached to for protection.

A piece of ice then broke loose and O'Hara slid down the sloped roof and fell over the edge.  While he was initially able to hold onto the safety rope, he was knocked off by falling snow, Ryg told the News.

"Everyone loved him... I never met a person who did not love him," O'Hara's grandmother, Dolores Spurgeon, told the News. "His colonel called... and told his mother - my daughter - that Eric was the most remarkable young man he'd ever worked with, a born leader."

Spurgeon added her grandson decided to join the military after being "devastated" by the events of September 11, 2001.

"He'd been in and out of the twin towers when he was little.  His father was a stockbroker and had offices there," she told the News.  "[When he saw the towers tumble down] it just gnawed at him.  He decided, 'I need to go to defend my country.'"

O'Hara's mother Terri is married to Montag's father Bill.  He is also survived by his father, two sisters, another stepsister, his grandmother and other relatives.

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