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Originally published June 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 12, 2008 at 5:02 PM

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Dead hiker loved Seattle, brother says: "He was a hero for us"

Cristian Burceag said his older brother, Eduard, moved to America eight years ago and fell in love with Seattle, its mountains, its opportunities. Cristian still can't believe his brother, the one who taught him how to live life, could die on the slopes of Mount Rainier.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Cristian Burceag said his older brother, Eduard, moved to America eight years ago and fell in love with Seattle, its mountains, its opportunities.

Cristian still can't believe his brother, the one who taught him how to live life, could die on the slopes of Mount Rainier.

"He is and will be the one who taught me to build my life with my own hands," said Cristian Burceag in an e-mail message.

Reached by telephone in Romania, where he and his brother grew up, he said he still can't talk about the tragedy that left his brother dead, leaving behind a wife and two young sons.

"I can't find words about him," said Cristian Burceag, who is 18 months younger than his brother. "When he left for America he took his life in his hands and made a great career."

Eduard Burceag worked for Active Voice, a Seattle-based company that specializes in helping companies transition from voice mail to unified-computer communications and messaging.

Cristian, who works in construction project management, said when Eduard was hired by the company he first lived in Dallas and then moved to Seattle.

He said Eduard Burceag married his wife, Mariana, in Romania, but the children were born in America. His mother was visiting from Romania, and was watching the two boys while Eduard and Mariana Burceag hiked to Camp Muir.

That's the only reason the couple was able to hike together, said Cristian Burceag. He said his brother usually hiked with friends.

They got caught in a violent storm, and Eduard Burceag died. His wife and a friend, Daniel Vlad, were rescued and were treated for hypothermia and frostbite.

Rangers said the three dug a trench when they were caught in the storm and that Eduard Burceag likely lay down in the trench, putting his wife and friend on top of him. That, said rangers who called Burceag a hero, likely saved their lives.

Cristian Burceag said he was not surprised to hear that his brother shielded his wife from the high winds and the cold on the mountain.

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"He was a hero for us," he said. "I'm sure he would do that. He knew very well that his children needed a lot of their mother and that was the main thing in his life."

Cristian Burceag said he last saw his brother in September, when the family visited Romania, but he said his brother had no plans to move back to the country.

He said they have a younger brother and the three grew up in Suceava, a town of about 150,000. "We have a lot of memories together," said Cristian Burceag. "We grew up in the countryside and had a wonderful childhood." He said they loved to hike and take trips into the mountains. "He liked to feel the nature and everything around him," he said.

He said he, the younger brother and his father are trying to get visas to come to Seattle for a funeral. He said his brother wanted to be buried in America.

Cristian Burceag said he just briefly talked to his sister-in law, who is still in shock and unable to talk about what happened on the mountain.

"I can hardly believe what happened," he said. "I want people to know the truth, that he was a hero for us."

Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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