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Fatal Hiking Accident in
Denali National Park

(National Park Service) Bethany Pate, 19, of Cleveland, Tennessee died of injuries sustained during a fall that took place at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Monday, August 16th, during a day hike on Mt. Healy. Pate and one of her two hiking companions were attempting to go below a rock outcropping in steep, rugged terrain near the summit at the 4,500 foot elevation when she stepped on a loose rock and fell approximately 45 feet, landing face-down against some rocks below the outcropping.

She was semi-conscious when her hiking partner, Rosemary Korish, 18, of Cashton, Wisconsin reached her location. Korish called for help from Anthony Cluff, 23, from Houston, Texas, who had stayed below to wait for the two to return. Cluff remained with Pate while Korish hiked back about three-and-a-half miles back to the trailhead to seek assistance.

Park rangers were notified by a call from the concession bus barn just after midnight. Due to the time of night and rugged terrain, the Rescue Communication Center (RCC) in Anchorage was contacted. RCC dispatched a night-vision equipped Pavehawk helicopter with a crew of technically trained rescue personnel, including paramedics, and HC-130 plane from the 210th Rescue Squadron stationed at the Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage. The HC-130 was sent along to facilitate communications, refuel the helicopter, and provide additional support with parajumpers if needed. The aircraft left Anchorage around 2:45 a.m. The plane arrived first, in about 45 minutes, and its crew was able to see the beam from the Cluff’s flashlight. The helicopter landed near the site at 4:15 a.m., and the paramedics determined that Pate was no longer alive.

Cluff was flown out to the park airstrip. During a later interview, he told rangers that Pate had stopped breathing within 30 minutes after Korish had gone for assistance. Rangers flew to the accident location to complete the investigation and remove Pate’s body from the mountain. Pate and her hiking companions were seasonal employees of the McKinley Chalet Resorts. The hike to Mt. Healy is a popular day hike, even though only the first two miles is maintained trail. Above that point, access is via social trail or cross-country travel. This is the first falling fatality to have occurred on Mt. Healy.

[Submitted by Kris Fister, Public Affairs Officer]



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