Keith T. Reed 2010-07-18

Teen drowns after fall into river
EUREKA: Whirlpool at waterfall may have dragged him under.

By LISA DEMER,, Published: July 18th, 2010

Troopers on Sunday evening found the body of an Anchorage teenager who tumbled off an embankment and into a river in a remote area of the Talkeetna Mountains northwest of the Eureka airstrip, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The body of Keith T. Reed, 18, was found just after 6 p.m., trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

Reed was part of a group of five on a weekend camping trip in the area, which they reached by driving in on modified four-wheel-drive vehicles from a trailhead at Mile 130 of the Glenn Highway, Ipsen said.

On Saturday night, Reed was hiking with two of the friends. They were taking pictures in the spectacular back country, Ipsen said.

Around 10:40 p.m., Reed fell into the headwaters of the Little Oshetna River. He was sucked into a whirlpool at the base of a waterfall, troopers said.

His hiking companions, Jeremiah Crawford, 22, of Wasilla, and Tyler Duncan, 20, of Wasilla risked their own safety by jumping in to save him, but couldn't find him, troopers said. Crawford told troopers that the force of the churning water was so strong it kept spitting him out. At one point, it pinned him to the side of the cliff. He had to be pulled out, Ipsen said.

"Troopers commended his friends for trying to save him," she said. "They tried their hardest."

But they are lucky they made it out; that stretch of river consists of whitewater rapids, she said.

Troopers began searching from a helicopter early Sunday but couldn't see much in the low light. They returned in Helo 1 later in the day and initially didn't see Reed. They were preparing to head back to collect more gear when they spotted his body in the same whirlpool where he fell in, Ipsen said.