Packrafter Dies in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

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Date: August 6, 2018
Contact: Margie Steigerwald, 907-822-7251

Copper Center, AK – Late last week, a 22-year old male died in a packrafting accident in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The deceased was identified as Aidan Don, from Salzburg, Austria. Don and a friend, both novice packrafters, were dropped off by plane near the lake at the base of the Nizina Glacier for a day-long packraft trip on August 2. Approximately three miles downriver, the two packrafters became separated by more than 100 yards. Upon seeing a capsized raft and no sign of his friend, the surviving rafter landed on an island and made a Satellite phone call for emergency assistance. Aerial searchers found Don’s body four miles further downstream on the south side of the Nizina River near the Mile High Cliffs. They were able to pick up the survivor and call for additional assistance with the recovery. Due to the difficulty of access to the location of the body, the responding ranger from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park requested a helicopter. With the assistance of the Denali National Park helicopter and crew, park rangers recovered Don’s body at approximately noon the following day, August 3. The body was transported to the state medical examiner and an investigation is on-going.


Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve rivers are cold, silty and conditions change constantly depending on rain and sun, both of which increase the volume and depth of the water. The Park’s rivers can be extremely challenging, even for experts, and are not recommended for unguided novice rafters. Dry suits and personal floatation devices are highly recommended for all river rafting and packrafting trips in the park.

Last updated: August 7, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


(907) 822-5234

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