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Climbers recover body of boy from Alaska glacier

Monday - 4/15/2013, 8:50pm  ET

DAN JOLING
Associated Press.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Soldiers from the Army's Alaska Northern Warfare Training Center helped recover the body of a 9-year-old boy whose snowmobile fell an estimated 200 feet into a glacier crevasse.

A recovery team Sunday night and Monday morning lifted the body of Shjon Brown from the crevasse in the Hoodoo mountains.

They reached an Alaska State Trooper command center set up at the site of the Arctic Man Classic, a race involving snowmobiles and either skiers or snowboarders, at 12:40 a.m. Monday, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The boy Saturday afternoon was on a snowmobile outing with his father and others in the mountains south of Delta Junction.

They were riding about five miles northwest of the site of the Arctic Man race, in which a skier descends a run, grabs a tow line pulled by a snowmobile, ascends a second hill and skis down to the finish line.

As his father took a break on the side of a hill, Shjon drove around a small mound and did not reappear.

His father traced the boy's tracks and discovered that he had fallen through a moulin, a hole formed when water on the glacier's surface melts ice to a crevasse below.

Climbers from the North American Outdoor Institute and an emergency room doctor first reached the bottom of the crevasse. A climber spotted the boy's goggles and helmet and the partially visible snowmobile.

They used a probe to attempt to find the boy's body but were not successful.

Peters said a recovery team returned Sunday with 12 soldiers from the northern center, a civilian climbing expert, two wildlife troopers and the boy's father.

"They brought with them tents, saws, ropes, lights, heaters, generators, miscellaneous equipment, plenty of food and water," she said.

The climbers found Shjon's body buried in six to eight feet now snow underneath his snowmobile.

Army officials did not immediately return phone calls Monday.

The Northern Warfare Training Center is based at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks and conducts training at the Black Rapids Training Site about 30 miles south of Delta Junction. The center trains soldiers to fight in cold weather and mountain environments.

Peters said it was not out of the ordinary for a 9-year-old to be riding a snowmobile in Alaska. In rural communities, children grow up riding snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles as a primary source of transportation and many Alaska children ride recreationally.

"It's a way of life around here," she said. "Hopefully they're raised to wear helmets when they do it."

The accident Saturday happened when the boy was being supervised by his father.

"A grown man could have just as easily driven into the hole," she said. "It's just tragic."


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