I must report the dreadful news that Edward Earl has drowned in a river crossing attempt in the Arctic.
The accident occurred on Saturday, June 20th.
Details are still sketchy, but here is what I know from phone calls with Beckie Covill,
who has been taking Sat phone calls from Dave Covill in the Arctic.
The party was on their way out from their attempt on Mount Isto.
Greg Sladen made it across the river first.
Edward went second and was hanging on to a rope with arm strength.
I do not know the configuration of the rope set up, only that Edward was not tied into the rope.
Edward lost his footing and was left hanging onto the rope.
Presumably, he had his pack on, which would have made his predicament tougher.
Finally, he lost his grip on the rope, and went downstream.
Greg on one side, and Dave Covill plus Jill Webster on the other bank gave chase downstream.
Dave and Jill were able to get Edward out of the water some 300 feet below the rope point.
They tried for an hour to revive Edward, but to no avail.
A rescue chopper came in, flew Dave and Jill across the river, then flew out with Edward’s body.
Dave, Jill, and Greg hiked back to their fixed wing landing spot where they spent Saturday night.
They were supposed to fly out late Sunday.
Dave and Greg were trying to call Edward’s brother Jim. I don’t know if they have succeeded.
Word has leaked out, and a posting from an old college friend has appeared on Edward’s Facebook page.
It’s time to rally around all involved in this tragic time.