Teen dies after fall on Mt. McGinnis

'It's just a shame that a young kid had to lose his life over something like this'

Posted: Friday, July 03, 2009

The body of a 16-year-old boy who went missing during a hike Wednesday afternoon on Mount McGinnis was recovered Thursday.

Alaska State Troopers have identified the boy as Cameron Clark. It is estimated that Clark fell between 700 and 1,200 feet down a snow chute on the north side of the mountain while attempting to recover his backpack, Trooper Chris Umbs said.

"It's just a shame that a young kid had to lose his life over something like this," Umbs said. "It's just one of those things that's an accident and you hope that it doesn't happen again."

Clark's body was found just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday with forward-looking infrared, an imaging technology that can detect body heat up to a few miles away, said Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. Weather and the terrain delayed the recovery on the 4,228-foot mountain located near the Mendenhall Glacier.

"It was highly technical to get to where he was. They didn't want to chance putting any of themselves at risk," said Umbs.

The search began Wednesday afternoon, when two friends he was hiking with reported Clark hadn't returned from a descent to retrieve his backpack.

"They didn't see him fall, they didn't hear anything, but he never came back and he didn't answer to their calls," Peters said.

Troopers received a call at about 2:15 p.m. that the teen was missing.

The state troopers, SEADOGS, Juneau Mountain Rescue and Temsco Helicopters launched a search shortly thereafter.

Search and rescue workers were dropped off partway up the mountain due to poor visibility and hiked to an area near the summit, where they met the two other teens at about 5 p.m. They were found uninjured.

Rescuers were sent to recover the body at about 6 a.m. Thursday.

"They were dropped off about 500 feet below where his location was," Umbs said. "They went through snow and ice to get to his location."

Rescuers arrived at the body near the 3,500-foot level of Mount McGinnis at about 9 a.m.

"After locating the body today it's very apparent that he had a horrendous fall," she said Thursday.

Clark's family could not be reached for comment. The boy attended Thunder Mountain High School and was a runner who had won the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Run more than once, according to Empire archives.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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