Fatal Field Trip Leads to Study of AMU Policy
By Martin Ridiner, Times 5/9/66
The death of two Alaska Methodist University students Sunday on the Eklutna Glacier touched off today a review by university authorities of the school's field trip program.
Victims of the double-tragedy were Frank Godfrey, 23, a senior, and Miss Ann Kroenung, 21, a junior. Their deaths were attributed to exposure to a localized blizzard.
Harold E. Springer, AMU business manager, said today the students' deaths could cause a reassessment of the field trip program.
"Everyone on the field trip will be asked for an individual report," he said. "The faculty will go over the reports to determine what must be done. It is too early to say what action will be taken."
Godfrey, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Godfrey, 4721 Newcastle Way, in Windemere subdivision was a graduate of Lincoln High in Portland, Ore. He attended Lewis and Clark University for two years and Portland State one year before enrolling AMU the summer of 1964. He was scheduled to graduate this month. The family said today they hoped to establish a scholarship in their son's name.
Miss Kroenung, 21, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kroenung, Cranberry Road, near Abbott Loop School. A graduate of Franklin High in Seattle, she enrolled as a freshman at AMU in the fall of 1963.
Both were geology majors.
The pair were members of a geological research party which began a four-day field trip on the glacier east of Anchorage Friday. The group included Gerard Garland, an AMU mathematics instructor; his brother Robert E. Garland, 27; Mrs. Robert (Marie) Garland, 27; Frank O'Connor, 20; Douglas Morris, 22; and Miss Kroenung's 19-year-old sister Emily.
Using snowshoes to travel on the snow-covered glacier, the group was about three miles east of the Eklutna Lake access road Saturday afternoon when the weather suddenly changed. High winds, freezing temperatures and a blinding snow storm made progress impossible so the group made camp.
According to Ron Linder, a physical education instructor and mountaineering expert, the party was well equipped to survive in spite of the storm.
"They carried sleeping bags and all other necessary gear," said Linder, who was a member of a second party on the glacier. "Both of the victims were considered strong and healthy, but perhaps their resistance to exposure was lowered by the trip. Frank carried one of the largest packs and he worked very hard. He was concerned for the others."
Linder said Sunday morning the other members found Godfrey partially out of his sleeping bag and Miss Kroenung completely out of hers. Both were still alive when found, but they died a few hours later.
"Ann was coherent and seemed okay, except she was cold,'' Linder said today. Frank was obviously very sick. No one knows just what happened, but we think the wind blew one or
both of them off the small ledge where they were and they tried to help each other get back."
Linder was in a party which included Ross Schaff, senior-geology professor at AMU. Linder's group was scheduled to meet the other party Sunday afternoon, but instead were met by O'Conner and Morris, who had gone down to the Eklutna Lake road to seek help.
Within two hours an Air Force H-21 helicopter from Elmendorf Air Force Base picked-up the surviving members of the party. According to the Elmendorf Rescue Coordination Center, Capt. William H. Kuchel the pilot, defied 50 - knot winds to make the rescue.
Another helicopter plus a ground party from Ft. Richardson and a State Police officer were to bring down the bodies of the victims today.
The father of Frank Godfrey said today that "all of the people involved in the field trip were well-known to us. The students and instructors are all friends. Ann Kroenung was a friend. I don't know exactly what happened, but it was a very severe storm which came up unexpectedly.
"They tell me that Frank got out of his sleeping bag - to help Ann."
He said his son had gone on many such trips in the two years as part of his geological studies. He owned his own camping and mountaineering equipment.
Funeral arrangements for both victims are pending at Evergreen Memorial Chapel.