Local Hero: Charlie Stokes


Presented to an outstanding young person who displayed courage and caring upon encountering an unusual, significant, or unexpected incident.

Not many 17-year-old high school students can say they helped save someone’s life.

Finding a teenager who can say he or she helped save multiple lives is even more rare. Enter Lakeville High School student Charlie Stokes. Along with his dad, Harlan “Hap” Stokes, the duo helped 21 hikers stay alive during a fierce thunderstorm in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In August of 2008 the two had climbed the 14,259-foot Longs Peak in Colorado, a goal of Hap’s ever since he tried to climb the peak with his parents as a teenager and had to turn back due to altitude sickness. He and Charlie were about 1,000 feet down the mountain when the storm hit. They and five other hikers took shelter from the torrential rain, wind, and hail under a rain fly and then decided—because another hiker was nearly hypothermic—to move on. For a terrifying 20 minutes they were separated before reuniting at a small emergency shelter built on the side of the mountain.

Once the group was at the shelter both Hap, an Eagle Scout, and Charlie, who has since earned the prestigious designation, kept their cool and administered first aid to four people who were suffering hypothermia and assisted 17 others by sharing food, water, and warm clothing.

As his dad also began suffering from the effects of hypothermia, Charlie—a natural leader—took over. In all, 23 people were trapped on the mountain peak that day—but thanks to the Stokes’ efforts, all of them lived to climb another day.

Their experience on Long’s Peak is an extreme case of how their scouting training has helped them and others. The experience has shaped their lives. “It helps teach you how to count on people,” Charlie says, “and at the same time, it teaches you how to be counted on.”