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Swiss woman dies in Teklanika River

by Sue Deyoe ~ August 16th, 2010

A woman drowned in the Teklanika River off of Stampede Road north of Healy on Saturday.

Alaska State Troopers received a call that a woman had been swept downriver while trying to cross the Teklanika River at the Stampede Road.  Both Troopers and Denali Park rangers responded to the scene. She was found 300 yards downstream of the crossing. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

A Denali National Park helicopter retrieved 28 year old Claire Jane Ackermann of Switzerland.  Park spokeswoman Kris Fister says that Ackerman did not have a backcountry permit. The Stampede road in that area is near the boundary of the park, but not inside the park.

The park report states that Ackerman was hiking with a 27 year old male friend from France.  The two hiked west on Stampede road and tried to cross the glacially fed river by tying into ropes that had been left previously by unknown persons.  They both lost their footing and were submerged and held under by the ropes.  The man says he cut himself free and made his way back to the bank and dropped his backpack. He was able to wade back out to Ackerman and cut her loose and float down river until he could pull her back to the bank, 300 yards downstream and just inside the boundary of Denali National Park.

The man was able to make contact with another hiking party who in turn contacted state troopers.  Both park service and troopers responded to the scene.  North District Ranger Richard Moore reported that although the body was found just inside the boundary of the park, State Troopers have jurisdiction in the case.  The body was released to a Fairbanks funeral home under the authority of the state medical examiner.  The Swiss consulate and the family have been notified.

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