'Incredible' Okla. Firefighter and Dad Who Survived Stage 4 Cancer Dies in Rock Climbing Accident

Crews responded to the scene at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge after learning that at least one climber “had suffered a fall near the Narrows Trail”

<p>Norman Fire Department/Facebook</p> Levin Wilkins

Norman Fire Department/Facebook

Levin Wilkins

A father and firefighter who previously battled cancer has died following a climbing accident in Oklahoma.

Crews leapt into action around midday Friday upon learning that at least one climber “had suffered a fall near the Narrows Trail” at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, according to a news release from the refuge.

Two hikers were ultimately rescued, one of whom “appeared to have suffered a medical emergency,” the refuge said.

One of the hikers did not survive. The victim was identified by loved ones as Levi Wilkins, according to NBC affiliate KFOR-TV and ABC affiliate KOCO-TV.

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Levi’s wife, Emily Wilkins, confirmed her husband’s death, both to KFOR-TV and on her own Facebook page.

“There’s no easy or graceful way to say this. @leviswilkins died in a rock climbing accident yesterday,” Emily wrote in Saturday's post, in which she described Levi as “the most incredible husband, father, son, brother & friend.”

The Norman Fire Department, where Levi served as a firefighter prior to his death, also paid tribute to the late cancer survivor in a statement on Facebook. (Wilkins battled Stage 4 cancer in 2019, KOCO-TV reported.)

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The department said Levi “came out stronger on the other side” after he “courageously” fought the disease.

“It’s difficult to express just how hard it hit when we learned of Levi’s passing yesterday,” the NFD wrote in Saturday’s post. “He lived life to the fullest every day and everyone who knew him, loved him.”

Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila said he met Levi during his bout with cancer, which the firefighter was determined to beat, according to KOCO-TV.

“He had that pugnacious kind of style that it’s just, 'I’m going to whip this, and this is going to be good, and we’re going to get through this just fine,' " Heikkila explained.

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Levi “lived BIG” after beating cancer and “believed every day was a gift,” according to his wife. She said it was comforting to know “how happy he was doing what he loved when his time came.”

“Having been together since we were 16 I don’t know how to do life without him and I never wanted to learn,” Emily wrote Saturday. “I’m not sure how we will face the future without him, but we will do our best to carry on his legacy of wonder and adventure.”

Levi leaves behind his wife and three children, Heikkila said, per KOCO-TV.

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