More than $35,000 has been raised for the family of former major league baseball pitcher Will Brunson, who died Nov. 23 of an apparent heart attack while hiking in Big Bend National Park.

The National Park Service said Brunson, 49, of New Braunfels, was backpacking on the Marufo Vega Trail with friends when he began experiencing symptoms consistent with a heart attack, and his backpacking group called 9-1-1.

“Park Rangers with emergency medical training arrived on scene, and soon after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter transported Mr. Brunson to the park ambulance waiting at Panther Junction,” the park said. 

Brunson lost consciousness while being transported to the hospital, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

“We are truly saddened by this loss of life, and would like to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Brunson,” said David Elkowitz, acting park superintendent.

Brunson was in the majors from 1998-99, recording a 5.71 earned run average in 27 appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers. His pro career also included several minor league stops between 1992 and 2001. 

After baseball, Will spent time in car sales and as a salesman in the oil industry before life came full circle and he returned to baseball as a scout for the Phillies, said Will’s brother, John Brunson, said on the GoFundMe page.

“We have had such an outpouring of love and support at the news of Will’s passing … Will left a lasting impression on everyone he met. Will grew up in De Soto, TX. He played baseball for Eastfield (Junior College) and Southwest Texas State (Texas State) where he met his wife Dana Huneycutt,” the GoFundMe post said. 

Will Brunson, a South Texas regional scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, leaves behind his wife, Dana, son Travis, a sophomore at Texas A&M University and daughter Ella, a junior at New Braunfels High School. 

“Will and Dana have two outstanding children in Travis and Ella who are sure to carry their dad’s legacy of enriching the lives of everyone they meet,” John Brunson said.

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