A Henry County family are mourning the loss of their grandson and nephew, 22-year-old skateboarder and social media influencer Josh Neuman, who died in a plane crash in Iceland.
“As the world sheds a tear, we should know that he passed doing what he loved, having just experienced the Northern Lights in Iceland for the first time and commenting ‘This is the happiest day of my life,'” wrote his mother, Bassett High School graduate Kristin Neuman, father Chris Neuman and brother Daniel Neuman in a statement released to the press.
Josh Neuman was also the grandson of Wayne and Pat Hall of Stanleytown and the nephew of Richard Hall of Martinsville and David Hall of Fieldale.
Neuman was best known for creating one of the the most-watched skateboarding videos on YouTube, where his channel has almost 1.2 million subscribers.
According to Neuman’s homepage, he began making videos at the age of 12 with his father’s video camera and later dropped out of college to pursue a career in extreme sports and filmmaking.
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Neuman, 22, was on the flight to create commercial content for the Belgian fashion brand Suspicious Antwerp along with Tim Alings, the company’s sponsorship manager, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, a 32-year-old skydiver and social media influencer from Belgium.
The pilot, Haraldur Diego, 49, was considered one of Iceland’s most prominent aviators and a pioneer of photography tours.
Four bodies believed to be the men were discovered on Sunday in Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s second-largest lake, with the use of an autonomous submarine and sonar technology.
Poor weather has prevented divers retrieving the bodies, found at depths of up to 157 feet.
“For the safety of divers we have to wait until the weather improves,” police chief Oddur Arnason told The Associated Press.
The Cessna 172 plane didn’t send a distress signal after disappearing from radar on Thursday. More than 1,000 members of Iceland’s Search and Rescue organization helped hunt for the aircraft, which was found Saturday in a portion of the lake about 30 miles east of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
“Josh represents the side of humanity we all strive to achieve,” reads a statement Richard Hall sent, written by Neuman’s parents and brother.
“The way he not just touched, but impacted lives was on a scale of its own. In his quest for adventure, thirst for creativity and passion for personal reflection, he truly impacted all those he touched.
“Josh believed in this world and knew that one person could make a difference. And he did.
“Josh was a young man of amazing principles and philosophies,” his family wrote.
“Josh had a core belief that he would give back to the world in more ways than he received. Since he was a little boy, he has always taken a significant piece of each dollar earned and given back to charity. He did not give to just one, but dozens of charities.
“He would research causes dear to his heart, whether it be homelessness, clean water, animal preservation or deforestation, and then find ways to make meaningful contributions to each. Yet, he wanted to do more.”
His family will establish a charitable foundation in his honor “that will continue to forever support his dream to make a meaningful difference in this world that we live in,” they wrote.
He “also was a child of the Lord,” said his family.
In 2020, Neuman published a sponsored video for Suspicious Antwerp, skating on a longboard down a winding road in Los Angeles.
Suspicious Antwerp spokesman Bram Boriau said the purpose of the flight was to capture footage of Iceland’s stunning scenery.
“All persons present were hugely passionate about travel and content creation, hence these themes were the main focus of the trip,” Boriau told the AP by email.
His family wrote that they are “grateful for the compassion of the people of Iceland. They share a degree of humanity and kindness like we have never experienced and have wrapped their loving arms around our family during these trying times.
“We want to especially thank the many Search and Rescue volunteers for their tireless efforts and those in the U.S. Embassy that have been so helpful.”
“In his 22 years on this earth, Josh didn’t just live life, he was life, and he lived it every day to the fullest,” his family wrote.
He had five “personal core values” that he lived by and would state regularly, they wrote.
He posted them on his Facebook page on Nov. 23, when he announced that his YouTube page had topped one million subscribers.
“About 10 years ago I posted my first YouTube video,” he wrote. “12 year old me could never have imagined what was to come.”
- “Do something because you’re passionate about it and not to make money, be popular, etc. With anything you do, there are going to be times when you want to give up. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t be willing to take those inevitable hits. (For the first 7 years of making videos, I gained a whopping 5K subscribers. I just truly loved making videos).
- “A number will never make you happy. It’s important to have your needs met but beyond that, no number of money or followers will bring you true happiness. Numbers never end and unfortunately for us humans, it’s in our nature to always want more. This is why it’s crucial that our sense of success/fulfillment comes from what we’re doing and not a number.
- “If you don’t fail, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. This applies to sports, business, relationships, etc. Failure is a key part of learning and without it, there’s no such thing as true success. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up.
- “If you’re doing what you love, don’t worry about what others think. I used to be so insecure about what people thought of me and it held me back from putting myself out there. A quote that changed my mindset was “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M. Baruch
- “Life begins where your comfort zone ends. Many of my best memories from the past 10 years have been in times when I was the most uncomfortable. Developing a healthy relationship with fear and discomfort will change your life and the first step is to get out of your comfort zone.”
His overall saying was “Live a good story,” his family wrote.