Stepbrother of Heidi Montag Passes Away in Accident

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For us, making fun of Heidi Montag is like breathing. Second nature. But it's all in jest and our hearts truly go out to The Hills star after a terrible tragedy struck her family late last week in her home state of Colorado.

Heidi Montag's 24-year-old stepbrother, Eric O'Hara, a veteran of several U.S. combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has lost his life in a bizarre accident at a hotel where he worked, the Rocky Mountain News reports.

Eric O'Hara died Thursday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel in Steamboat Springs, slipping off a sloped roof while attempting to remove snow.

Heidi Montag's family is mourning the loss of Eric O'Hara.

"Having made it through 15 months in Iraq, and then to have this happen," said his uncle, Dave Patston, "it's really tough."

"Everyone loved him," O'Hara's grandmother, Dolores Spurgeon, also told the paper. "I never met a person who did not love him."

O'Hara's colonel in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, said, "Eric was the most remarkable young man he'd ever worked with, a born leader."

The step-brother of Heidi Montag felt a call to duty, his grandmother said, because "He'd been in and out of [New York City's] Twin Towers when he was little. His father was a stockbroker and had offices there."

Their destruction "just gnawed at him. He decided, 'I need to defend my country.'"

Heidi Montag herself was quoted by Us Weekly about Eric's passing:

"I just loved him more than anything. He couldn't wait to meet [Spencer Pratt]. He was very much a brother to me. He called me his sister, not his step-sister. He was always like, 'I love you! I have to meet Spencer and make sure he's cool to you!' Just like a brother would.... He was just back [from Iraq] and was ready to go back to school. He went up to Steamboat for the weekend where my dad lives... Eric was just so patriotic. He just really wanted to go there and help and do everything that he could for his country. He felt like it was his duty."

Heidi Montag's father, Bill Montag, featured on a memorable episode of The Hills, is married to O'Hara's mother Terri. Eric is surivived by two sisters, another stepsister (Holly Montag), his father, grandmother and other relatives.

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I think it's really tragic Eric will forever remembered by the press as "Heidi Montag's Brother" not Hero, not beloved son, or friend.