Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo woman dies after falling off mountain while hiking in Italy

Italian media reports say Chelsea Rebecca Alvarez, 24, of Waterloo died after she lost her balance while hiking a mountain path at an altitude of 2,200 metres and plunged onto some rocks in the valley below, killing her instantly.

'The look on everyone's face the second you tell them is just devastation,' colleague says

Chelsea Rebecca Alvarez (right) is pictured here with her fiancé, former OHL Barrie Colts captain, Colin Behenna. (Chelsea Rebecca Alvarez/Facebook )

Italian media reports say a 24-year-old Waterloo, Ont., woman has died while hiking in the mountains near the Italian-Austrian border on New Year's Day. 

Chelsea Rebecca Alvarez was following a mountain path at an altitude of 2,200 metres while out hiking in the countryside in South Tyrol. Reports say she lost her balance and fell about 150 metres onto rocks in the valley below, where she died instantly.

Alvarez recently graduated with a degree from the mechanical engineering systems program at Conestoga College.

She was engaged to be married to Colin Behenna, the former captain of the OHL Barrie Colts, who is now playing hockey in a European hockey league for the Sterzing Broncos.

'She was a beautiful sweet girl'

The 24-year-old worked at St. Louis Bar and Grill on Waterloo's Northfield Drive for the past five years. The eatery closed down early Monday night after the owner found out about Alvarez's death. 

"It's been tragic," colleague Elizabeth Cunha said. She worked with Alvarez for most of the five years she was an employee there.

"The look on everyone's face the second you tell them is just devastation," she said, adding the restaurant's workers are "tight-knit." 

"It's not just you come into work, do your thing and you're out. Everyone is friends and family and it's that sense of community that everyone has here," she said. 

"She was a beautiful sweet girl, she'll be missed by many."

Hockey community shocked

Gus Bastias, a regular at the Waterloo restaurant, said the news shocked many in the hockey community who knew both Alvarez and Behenna.

"The hockey community is a tight community," Bastias said. "It's extremely shocking to our community here, to our group."

He said he learned of the tragedy through a friend on a Waterloo men's hockey team. They often frequented St. Louis Bar and Grill after games.

"She was always there and she always greeted us with a big smile and just a beautiful, beautiful soul," he said of Alvarez.

Bastias said the couple had just left Canada for Italy a couple months ago so Behenna could start his hockey career in Europe. 

Behenna played for the Waterloo Warriors during his time as a student at the University of Waterloo.