ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Falling ice crushed a woman and a loose rock struck and killed a 5-year-old boy in separate Independence Day hiking accidents in Alaska, authorities said Thursday.
Brittany Boegel, 32, of Mound, Minnesota, died on a hike in an ice field near Byron Glacier about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Anchorage.
The glacier is within Chugach National Forest and part of Portage Valley, a 14-mile (22.5-kilometer) isthmus that connects the Kenai Peninsula to mainland Alaska.
The valley attracts thousands of visitors each year and offers spectacular views of snowcapped mountains.
Chugach National Park spokeswoman Alicia King said she did not know how Boegel reached the ice field but confirmed that Byron Glacier is accessible by a short walking trail.
There is no prohibition on walking on the glacier but the U.S. Forest Service urges hikers to consider their safety.
“We don’t recommend people really going past that particular area,” King said of the trail.
Boegel was with a man and a 6-year-old boy when they approached a hollowed-out, compressed snow mass that resembled a snow cave, Alaska State Troopers said.
They walked under the mass of ice and snow and the ceiling fell. The man and boy suffered what troopers said were minor injuries.
The ice buried Boegel. Family members and others pulled her out and attempted CPR. Emergency responders carried in medical supplies including an automated external defibrillator. She died at the scene.
In the other accident, a 5-year-old Valdez, Alaska, boy died Wednesday when he was struck by a falling rock near Worthington Glacier about 28 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Valdez. The glacier is within Thompson Pass, a 2,800-foot (855-meter) mountain pass.
The boy was with family and friends, Alaska State Troopers said, when a rock the size of a bowling ball rolled off a ledge and struck him in the head.
Warm temperatures have caused the melting of snow and ice on and around the glacier, and investigators believe the rock became loose because of the weather conditions, Jonathon Taylor, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, wrote in an email.
Allie Ferko, spokeswoman for the Valdez Police and Fire Department, said troopers asked for assistance and the departments sent ambulances and its backcountry search and rescue responders.
A private helicopter flew the boy to Valdez Providence Hospital, where he died. His name was not immediately available.
The glacier is a short walk from a state recreation site off the highway. Hikers can walk along both sides of the ice.