Man Falls 50 Feet to Death From Alaskan Trail While Helping Hikers Cross Deep Gorge

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 11, 2019 Updated: June 11, 2019

A man fell 50 feet to his death from an Alaskan trail while helping hikers to cross a deep gorge in a hand tram.

Jeffrey Hummel, 57 from Anchorage, Alaska, missed the safety netting and fell 50 feet from one of the hand tram platforms in Girdwood on June 8, Girdwood Fire Department said in a statement.

The fire department said that along with Whittier Police Department it “responded to the Hand Tram and Winner Creek Trail for a hiker that had fallen,” at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday.

According to All Trails, Winner Creek Trail is a “moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Girdwood, Alaska.” The trail offers various activity options to hikers of all skill levels from January to October.

“Preliminary investigation shows Jeffery Hummel was assisting other hikers crossing the Hand Tram when he fell approximately 50 feet. Jeffery Hummel lost balance while assisting the hikers and fell off of the platform, missing the safety netting,” said the fire department’s statement.

It said volunteers helped Girdwood Fire and Rescue and Whittier Police to lift Hummel to the top of the trail.

“Unfortunately, due to the severity of the fall, Jeffery Hummel was pronounced dead at the scene,” the statement said.

The authorities said Hummel’s family had been notified. His remains were sent for an autopsy to identify the specific cause of death.

One of the hikers whom Hummel helped cross the gorge described him as a nice person.

“We were one of the last people he helped pull across. So sad! He looked familiar to me but I couldn’t place from where. I now know he was the owner of Hummels Flowers in Anchorage. I used to buy flowers there years ago. Always such a nice guy!” Michelle Renee wrote in response to the Girdwood Fire Department’s statement on Facebook.

Daniel Poulson, another eyewitness, wrote: “This is heartbreaking⁠—my partner Kenneth Rabon and I arrived at the hand tram shortly after it happened. It was clear that EMT and the AFD responders were doing everything they could to stabilize him and evacuate him. My thoughts are with his family.”

In an earlier post on Facebook, the fire department thanked those who had helped.

“Thank you to the many bystanders, Alyeska Resort Mountain Patrol, off duty medical professionals, Lifemed, Whittier Police and AFD Dispatch that assisted with lifesaving measures. Thank you to AFD Station 9 that covered our service area’s calls, when our rescue crews were at Winner Creek,” said the fire department.

All Trails stated that as of Monday the hand pull tram bridge had been closed for maintenance.

In another incident that happened on Winner Creek trail, a 46-year-old Texas man, Bradford Broach, went missing in August 2016.

His wife reported him missing after he failed to board a Texas-bound flight from Fairbanks, reported Anchorage Daily News (ADN).

More than 100 volunteers, helicopters, and trained dogs searched for Broach but he’s still listed missing by the Alaska State Troopers.

“His daughter left [Alaska] before him. He spent extra time here and was finishing up his trip,” Sgt. Michael Zweifel of the Alaska State Troopers told ADN.

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya