Aussie Mum Dies on Kokoda Trek

Having trekked Kokoda myself, I was saddened by the news of Aussie mum Samantha Killen, age 36, having died on the track. Sam leaves behind loving husband Dion and two children, a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 3.Aussie Mum Dies Kokoda

There are no clear reports as to what caused her death, only that she felt dizzy one day into the trek and then passed away. I heard something about dehydration  too. We can’t speculate and until there is further news, there is no point.

The Nine MSN source says that Sam was on the trek with her father aged 62, her brother and a family friend. They were trekking Kokoda to honour her grandfather who had fought for Australia during the one of the toughest WWII battles.

Trekking Kokoda

The preparation involved before taking on the trek is arduous and then actually being there is even more so. I was completely out of my comfort zone. It was my greatest personal challenge to choose to do this. I’ve said it before that mud and me just don’t mix.

The article I read said that Sam trained every morning for 12 months. My hat goes off to her. I wasn’t that diligent. My training only started 4 months before the due time. It was a sudden decision that I chose to go.  However, I did train with my personal trainer and he was the one who arranged the trek for a group of 12 of us. We also had two nurses and our guide David, a fireman in his day job, who had already trekked Kokoda 7 times before leading our group. There was so much experience in medical and first aid which I was tres happy about. Even with all the training, nothing can prepare you for the actual track itself.

Besides the fact that I had to be medivac’d out because I slipped and broke my wrist (and needed surgery) 6 days in, missing the last day and a half of the trek, another member of our group had rolled his ankle on the first day into the trek and managed to walk 4 days on it before he was also medivac’d out, our group were quite fit and made the trek in record times (according to our guide).

Hype about Trekking Kokoda

The thing that upsets me the most is when there is so much hype about trekking Kokoda. Seriously folks. Get a grip on L-I-F-E!

We live in a fast paced world. Crossing the street can cause death. Driving a car can cause death. Stress can cause death. We are born, and one day, we die. Where and when that happens is not up to us. There are incidences where people die in their sleep even and sometimes, not just elderly people. Like Kurek Ashley says, If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Trekking Kokoda is perhaps perceived to be more dangerous than crossing the street in your local shopping centre. I slipped and fell many times while on the trek. I climbed the rugged edge of the mountain with only enough room for one at a time. Was I scared? Yes, in fact. Every time I lost concentration and thought about my kids and WHAT WAS I THINKING TREKKING KOKODA, I became weak and filled with emotion. Couldn’t this happen in any circumstance in our everyday lives? While we’re driving our cars maybe?

Life is a Challenge

The point I want to get across is that if we don’t challenge ourselves in life, when it’s time to go, we could be filled with regret at not having taken risks or enough risks while we had the chance to. Hearing people say that no-one should trek Kokoda and leave the local villagers to be invaded by mining company’s in my humble opinion is BS. It’s way too beautiful a landscape and also very historic to be dredged up by mines. When I am asked about the trek, I encourage everyone to do it. If not Kokoda, then another challenge which they will be proud of achieving.

Rest in Peace Samantha Killen and may your children grow to be proud of their mum who chose to take a risk and challenge herself to go and trek Kokoda.

God Bless


13 comments to “Aussie Mum Dies on Kokoda Trek”

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  1. You’re so absolutely right, Ange. Life is for the living. Yes there is always a chance of an untimely death, but I’d rather go being able to say I enjoyed it here than that I always played it safe.

    My husband and I (and actually my kids, too) snowmobile. We are always fielding comments about how dangerous a sport that is. Of course, it can be and there always is a chance of an accident every time we go, but there is much more chance of me dying on my way to the grocery store (really, the statistics are well behind that fact, especially if you don’t do stupid things like drink and ride, which we don’t!).

    I’m not actually much of a risk taker, but what I have learned is we all have to push ourselves a little out of that comfort zone if we want to find out what living is really all about! Kudos to you!

    Mary Wards last blog post..AmSnow Test Rides Premier’s 200 & 300 cc Sleds

  2. Snowmobile-ing sounds fun (and risky, LOL!) Tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime. Samantha’s death was very untimely and the fact she was with her family at the time won’t be easy for them. I wish them peace and courage to carry on with their lives.

  3. Ange, I can imagine just how you felt when you heard about Samantha and while writing this it must have crossed your mind that your lovely daughters may have been without a mum.
    All of those things do cross our minds from time to time, yet we should all still be the best we can and live life to the fullest, as you quoted better to have taken risks and lived life than to have never lived life at all. Trekking Kokoda is only one of many things one can do in life to build character & Kokoda trekking is no different to mountain climbing.
    A great post Ange about a true champion, God bless her.

    Allen Sentance

    Allen Sentance (FISHERMAN)s last blog post..Easter With Family and Grandchildren

  4. It is a bit risky, and tons of fun!! (Come on out next winter and give it a try 🙂 ). But it is also one of those things that in part is only as risky as you make it. You can never erase all the risk, but you can ride smart and within your limits and put the best odds in your favor. EVERYTHING is a risk if you are determined to live life in fear. Growing up on a farm we rode horses a lot, and I know far more people who’ve been injured and even killed doing that than snowmobiling. But they lived and enjoyed their lives! I’d much rather go that way if I had to than in some case of road rage or traffic stupidity (which is just SO prevalent here with everyone always in a rush to go somewhere they don’t want to be!!).

    As Allen said, this is a great post and you did her well by supporting her with it!

    Mary Wards last blog post..AmSnow Test Rides Premier’s 200 & 300 cc Sleds

  5. so refreshing to read this perspective after hearing about this all week on the radio

    Lauras last blog post..Blog Chicks – Networking for Australian Women Bloggers

  6. Well said Ange.
    Sam died doing something that was important to her and she was prepared. Every day we step out of bed is a risk.
    Life is meant to be lived.
    Still my condolences go to her family and children.

    Trishs last blog post..Weekly Winners 17 2009

  7. Aww, Ange that is sad, but I see your point. Part of life is taking chances. We can prepare, do the best we can and hope for the best.

    Sandras last blog post..Stashing Boots for Tackling it Tuesday

  8. I thought your Kokoda article uplifting. I am leaving for Kokoda on August 11 this year and am sick to death of everyone being so NEGATIVE. I have trained with two girlfriends for over 12 months to date. This does not mean we are not going to fall, get sick or heaven forbid die on the trek, but we are least well prepared and going in with eyes wide open. So many people tell you, you will fail, do you know hard it is. My reply is yes, I know its going to be physically and emotionally tough, but I am up for the challenge and I won’t die wondering and wishing. Obviously our prayers goes to all their families who have been touched by death during the trek at Kokoda and having two children of my own I do honour living a good life. Say a prayer for us for a safe return from Kokoda. I know our lives will never be the same again.

  9. Hi Debbie, thanks for taking the time to leave your opinion.

    I admire anyone who wants to trek Kokoda and your attitude is wonderful! I had the same from family and friends who didn’t think I was up for the challenge. Sometimes, you have to be selfish and go live your dreams.

    You and your friends will be in my prayers and I would love to hear back from you once you return. Your life will change having taken this on… anything is possible… Live the life you love… Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

  10. Girl From Hamilton says: May 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I just finished watching a special on the TV about the kokoda trail, and cried, cried when i read this post and will most likely cry everytime i see that picture of Sam with Harrison & Lilly. While i knew sam in passing as we live in the same town i didnt “know” her and if it pains me this much weeks later i feel sad when i think about her husband dion and her children.

  11. Hi Girl from Hamilton, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I watched the same program and cried through that! My father had triple bypass surgery and seeing those 5 brave souls take on the trek and finishing was heart-warming (pardon the pun).

    Sam was courageous as is anyone who takes the Kokoda challenge or similar. We can keep sending prayers for her husband and children in the hope that they will find peace and continue to live their lives to the fullest.

    The message from that program, “Kokoda with Heart” was if you are living, have purpose and live your life you want to lead.

    I found a site where you can order the DVD from if anyone is interested, find it here http://www.zipperandstent.com.au/kokoda.htm

  12. I like your blog Mrs Ange, and I joint with your facebook… please confirm me okay… I am sorry my english language is very bad 🙂