- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A Florida man who sent a selfie photo of himself smiling on a trail above Alaska’s capital city died after apparently falling down a rocky outcrop, Alaska State Troopers said Monday.

Michael Patrick Blaisdell, 35, of Orlando, Florida, was visiting a friend in Juneau over the July Fourth holiday weekend.

He went out for a hike on the Mount Roberts Trail near downtown Juneau on Independence Day and was reported missing when he hadn’t contacted his friend, Juneau attorney Kevin Dilg, by Sunday afternoon, the Juneau Empire reported (https://is.gd/ssnl7p).

Mountain rescue personnel using a canine search team found Blaisdell’s body Sunday evening at the bottom of a 50-foot drop in Bear Valley, just off the Mount Roberts trail system.

“It appears he took a tumble off a - I wouldn’t say cliff because it wasn’t straight up and down - but a steep, rocky outcropping,” trooper Joshua Bentz, who coordinated the search, told the Empire.

Blaisdell decided to go hiking alone on Saturday. He texted a photo of himself smiling with a backdrop of mountain peaks behind him to Dilg at 11:16 a.m. Minutes later, he texted that he was beyond the Mount Roberts Cross and heading for Gastineau Peak.

Bentz said it appears Blaisdell’s phone then died because there were seven or eight unanswered texts from his friend. Dilg later had the photo enlarged and used it for a missing poster so searchers had an idea of who they were looking for.

A private helicopter tour company giving two rescuers a ride to Gastineau Peak spotted Blaisdell’s body.

Blaisdell left the maintained trail near Mount Roberts Cross, a popular tourist destination, Bentz said.

The body was found nearby, over a ridge and down into a valley.

Bentz said it’s not known if Blaisdell went off the trail on purpose or got lost and tried to “bushwhack down the mountain” in hopes of finding another trail.

Because of the thick vegetation, Bentz said it’s possible Blaisdell didn’t realize he was on a cliff. Darkness would have made it even more difficult.

The body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy, standard procedure for all unattended deaths.

Sharon Buis, an experienced local hiker, went missing in the same area last year and was never found.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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