Andrew Lekisch 1987-07-15

Young Anchorage runner falls to his death in park

by Nancy Montgomery, ADN 7/15/87

A 15-year-old Anchorage boy on a training run with friends fell 100 feet to his death Tuesday afternoon in Chugach State Park.

Andrew Lekisch was pronounced dead at the scene. He died of head injuries, with his friend Chris Nolke at his side, sometime before medics arrived in an Alaska State Trooper helicopter about 3:15 p.m.

Lekisch, Nolke and another friend, Doug Spurr, were running in a remote area called the Wedge some four miles southeast of Flattop Mountain, according to troopers.  The three, all cross-country skiers, were running on a trail until they decided to take a shortcut, Nolke told firefighters.

Lekisch started down one slippery ridge and the other two boys went another way, firefighters said.  The pair stopped when they heard their friend's cry.

After seeing that Lekisch was injured, Doug Spurr ran 4-1/2 miles to the first house he saw.  According to firefighters, Spurr called fire dispatch about 2:35 p.m.

It took Spurr about 45 minutes to reach help, firefighters said.  Another 25 minutes passed while paramedics, firefighters and troopers assembled in the park's parking area.  During that time, Nolke stayed with Lekisch on the mountain.

Finally, with Spurr aboard to show them the way, paramedics were flown to the site, Nolke and Spurr were brought out by helicopter.  Witnesses said they crumpled to the ground in grief.

Lekisch was an all-around athlete.  A competitive runner and skier, he made the West High School cross-country ski team after some success in local recreational races.  He also ran on the school's cross-country running team and was a bicycle racer.  He would have been a sophomore at West this year.

"He was a wonderful kid," said Kim Berg, a family friend whose son competed in many of the same events of Lekisch.  "He was very polite and courteous.  He was a good student and an excellent athlete," Berg said.

"He was a very intense person.  He strived to always do very well..  I'm just really sad."