Untimely Death of Denali National Park Geologist
Contact: Kris Fister, 907 683-9583
Phil Brease, Denali National Park and Preserve’s geologist since 1986, died today while leading a field trip for a Tri-Valley School science class taking place at Garner Point south of Healy. Brease, age 60, had remained behind when the students returned to the bus. Tri-Valley teacher Mark Jordan walked back to where the class had been, and found Brease unconscious on the trail and not breathing. He called 911 at 11:36 a.m. and immediately began CPR. A Tri-Valley Fire Department ambulance and medics arrived within ten minutes and continued attempts at resuscitation, but were unsuccessful. The incident is being investigated by Alaska State Troopers and the Office of the State Medical Examiner, but all indications at this time are that he likely succumbed to natural causes.
Phil Brease was a Denali institution who was passionate about his work. He inspired countless numbers of park employees, visitors, teachers, and students through his programs, seminars, and field trips on the park’s geology and its recently discovered dinosaur resources. He was recognized for his scientific contributions to the knowledge of the park’s geological resources by having a species of extinct marine mollusk, found only in Denali, named after him – Myrospirifer breasei.
Brease was also passionate about the preservation and restoration of the park’s resources. For over two decades he has been the key person responsible for the cleanup of hazardous waste and the restoration of mining sites and streams in Kantishna.
Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
Did You Know?
Recent climate warming has affected Denali in ways that are readily apparent, such as reduced spring snowfall, earlier snowmelt, earlier green-up and thawing of permanent snowfields. Subarctic ecosystems, like Denali, are extremely sensitive to climate variability and change.