Jon Starheim 10-04-09

Anchorage man dies after fall from Hurricane Gulch bridge


Published: October 5th, 2009

WASILLA -- An Anchorage man who fell off the towering Hurricane Gulch bridge Sunday fell nearly 300 feet yet survived initially, emergency officials said.

But 25-year-old Jon Starheim was pronounced dead a few hours later in an ambulance taking him to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Alaska State Troopers said.

Hurricane Gulch is at Mile 174 of the Parks Highway, just north of Denali State Park.

Witnesses saw Starheim get out of his truck and leap off the bridge around 5:20 p.m., troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. It was snowing, so a LifeMed Alaska air ambulance helicopter wasn't able to launch from its Wasilla-area base, said Dennis Brodigan, emergency services director for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Instead, ambulances from Talkeetna, Willow and Cantwell converged on the scene.

Talkeetna fire chief Ken Farina told Brodigan that witnesses could see Starheim at the bottom of the gulch, crawling on his hands and knees. The Cantwell crew called in a vertical evacuation rescue team from Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department in Healy, Brodigan said. That team lifted Starheim from the gulch, and he was loaded into the Talkeetna ambulance, he said.

Starheim was still conscious at that point, but died in the ambulance at around 9:30 p.m., according to dispatch logs.

Brodigan couldn't remember the last time someone jumped off the Parks Highway bridge that soars over Hurricane Creek.

Find Zaz Hollander online at or call her in Wasilla at 907-352-6711.