Park Service releases name of hiker killed

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The name of the hiker who died while trying to cross a river in Wrangell Saint Elias National Park was released Sunday.

Searchers recovered the body of Peter Murray Saturday evening from the Chitistone River. The 28-year-old man was from Bloomington, Minn., according to National Park Service spokeswoman Jane Tranel.

Murray was hiking the Chitistone Trail with Ryan O'Connell, 29, and Tim Bryant, 30, both of Aurora, Colo.

A Wrangell Mountain Air plane dropped the men off at Skolai Pass, at the 4,500-foot level, where they began their hike, Tranel said.

The men hiked east to the Chitistone Pass, with a 5,800-foot level, reaching the Chitistone River Thursday night. They linked arms and tried to cross the river but lost their footing when one of them slipped.

O'Connell and Bryant had unclipped their backpacks and managed to make it across the river, but Murray was swept away with his pack still on.

The hikers failed to find their friend after searching all day Friday.

They continued looking from the air after their scheduled pickup at 1 p.m. Saturday. After they were dropped off in McCarthy, the park service launched a helicopter search.

Tranel said the body was spotted by the helicopter searchers at 5 p.m. Saturday and recovered about an hour later.

Searchers found the partly submerged body about a mile downriver of where the mishap occurred.

Tranel said Murray apparently drowned after he was caught in some rocks. His pack was still strapped on, she said.

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