Howell was from Waynesville, North Carolina, a city in the western part of the state near the junction where the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains meet. A student athlete who ran cross-country and played soccer in high school, Howell also participated in Evironthons — events designed to raise awareness about climate issues.
A close friend who spoke with the Asheville Citizen Times said he and Howell regularly hiked and camped together during the summers when they’d return to the area.
Matthew Westmoreland also has fond memories of Howell. The photographer was a high school classmate and friend who says the images he took of Howell are helping him process his death.
“Looking over these pictures has been more helpful than I thought,” Westmoreland said.
Howell’s family issued a statement on Wednesday, calling him a “big muscular guy with a huge heart.” “He was the kind of person who you knew would take care of you the moment you met him, and he always did. He radiated love and always will,” the statement read.