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Kyle Forti, a 2012 Hillsdale graduate, was killed in a heli­copter crash in Kenya on Sunday. He is sur­vived by his wife Hope, who is pregnant, his son Max, and seven sib­lings. Facebook

After taking off at 8:30 p.m., a heli­copter crashed Sunday in Kenya, killing Kyle Forti, a 2012 graduate of Hillsdale College, and three other Amer­icans.

Forti and the others were flying to the Lobolo tented camp, but they did not make it far before losing contact. A search-and-rescue mission iden­tified the wreckage hours before dawn, according to the Asso­ciated Press. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

Forti was a foster parent and a Col­orado political strategist who cofounded D/CO Con­sulting, a cam­paign con­sulting digital adver­tising company, with Caleb Bonham.

“At 9:10 p.m. last night, my phone rang…It was my mom. Little did I know, my life was about to be com­pletely rocked, and I was about to feel every emotion and nothing at all — all at the same time,” Josh Forti, Forti’s brother, wrote in a Facebook post. “She screamed, ‘Kyle’s dead! He’s dead! Kyle is dead! He was killed in a heli­copter crash in Kenya!!! Your brother is dead.’ Nothing can prepare you for that call. Nothing.”

Friends remember Forti as a ded­i­cated family man, a rising star, and an explorer with unquenchable curiosity.

“I never remember him not smiling, not having some­thing pos­itive to say,” said Sean Duffy, a political con­sultant in Col­orado and a friend of Forti’s. “He wasn’t one of those cats who com­plain — and in pol­itics, everyone is down about some­thing — but Kyle was a pleasant, enthu­si­astic, pos­itive guy who wanted to get all he could out of life. Not a lot of people are jumping on heli­copters in Kenya at night.”

Forti also made Red Alert Pol­itics “30 under 30” list in 2014 for founding Peak Political Solu­tions, and he ran one of the largest public rela­tions firms in Col­orado, D/CO Con­sulting, with Bonham.

“Kyle brought a humanity to pol­itics that you rarely see. There is a hardness — an imper­son­ality — in pol­itics, and Kyle refused to let that be him,” Col­orado state Sen. Owen Hill said. “Instead, he took that unstop­pable energy and brought a real humanity to pol­itics. People across the spectrum were important and fas­ci­nating to Kyle simply because they were people.”

Forti is sur­vived by his pregnant wife, Hope Forti, his son Max, and seven sib­lings.

“Kyle first and foremost loved being with his family. His wife, Hope, and his son, Max, were his world,” Bonham said. “Kyle loved nav­i­gating this crazy little thing called life with everyone that entered. He chal­lenged each of us to love our neighbors and asked if our focus should shift from being per­ceived as a ‘good person’ to being better at being a person.”

As a foster parent, Forti was pas­sionate about improving Colorado’s foster care system.

“For him, I think it came out of the calling of their faith,” Vice Pres­ident of Public Policy at Col­orado Christian Uni­versity Jeff Hunt said. “And Kyle was strongly moti­vated to be a good dad. I think it was one of his key pas­sions in life if you looked at the way he treated his son Max. He loved his son deeply; he took him on adven­tures. I think the love for improving the foster system came out of that deep love as a father.”

Hope and Kyle Forti founded the non­profit Foster Together Col­orado to help foster children and foster parents. He worked to grow his business so that he could afford to spend half of his time at home with his son. He joked about com­peting with mommy bloggers by starting a boys’ fashion and adventure blog, according to Hope Forti.

“Kyle was not pri­marily a political strategist or adviser. He was pri­marily a husband and father,” Hope Forti said. “Today, his friends, Sam and Sam, told me how they noticed Kyle ‘seeing’ our children. He paid beau­tiful attention to other people.”

After the crash, past foster children came to visit the Fortis.

“The house is filled with past foster kids and other children pressing out the play dough on the table, LEGOs all over the floor, and kids running through the house in every direction,” Ann Forti, Kyle’s mother, posted on Facebook. “It is every­thing Kyle would want! (Well, he would want the mess picked up and orga­nized at some point.)…Keeping the legacy alive.”

During his time at Hillsdale, Forti joined the Sigma Chi fra­ternity, served as a student ambas­sador, and double-majored in political science and Christian studies.

“He’s always been the kind of person people want to be around: relent­lessly pos­itive, full of energy,” Taylor Gage, ’10, said. “People grav­i­tated towards him because of his outlook on life, his desire to pursue the truth, and his love for exploring not just ideas but also places.”

Pro­fessor of History Brad Birzer and Lec­turer of History Dedra Birzer remember Forti for his sense of adventure and for his com­mitment to his family.

“He was an absolute mainstay in Col­orado, a force of nature. Everybody knew him,” Brad Birzer said. “He was always on fire. He’s not the kind of guy who would have faded out of life. I don’t mean to sound insen­sitive — it’s hor­rible — but I think his death had to have been as dra­matic as his life was. Every­thing he touched, he changed.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser page has been set up so dona­tions may be sent to the Forti family. Over $100,000 have been raised in two days.