Alaska News

Michigan teen dies after suffering medical emergency on hike near Exit Glacier

A teenage boy from Michigan died Monday afternoon after suffering a medical emergency during a hike near Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, authorities said.

Sixteen-year-old Simon Mirkes from Farmington Hills, Michigan, was in Alaska this month as part of an excursion with Tamarack Camps, a Michigan-based Jewish summer camp, camps spokesman Michael Layne said Tuesday.

“We cannot convey the pain and sadness we feel for the Mirkes family, and we will continue to keep them in our hearts as we grieve as a community,” Layne said, reading from a prepared statement, after confirming Mirkes’ death during a hike in the Exit Glacier area near Seward.

Layne said the cause of the boy’s death wasn’t yet clear. What’s known is that Mirkes collapsed during the hike, and CPR efforts by camp staff and others — which began promptly — were ultimately unsuccessful, Layne said.

“At the time of the incident, the stricken camper immediately received first responder care from trained staff,” Layne said.

We are devastated by the loss of Simon Mirkes, a camper on our Alaska 2 Trip, who collapsed yesterday afternoon on a...

Posted by Tamarack Camps on Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Alaska State Troopers said Seward-based wildlife troopers received a report of a medical emergency with CPR in progress around 1 p.m. Monday, about 3.7 miles up the Harding Icefield Trail in the national park.

“Bystanders including volunteers from a local guide service performed CPR until emergency responders arrived on scene. A LifeFlight helicopter crewed with paramedics was able to land on scene and attempt additional resuscitation efforts. Despite the efforts of all involved, the juvenile did not survive,” troopers wrote in their online report.


He was pronounced dead shortly after 3 p.m., according to troopers.

Multiple agencies responded to the incident, including the National Park Service, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Bear Creek Fire Department, Seward Volunteer Ambulance Corps and LifeMed Alaska.

An investigation is being conducted by the Alaska State Troopers and the National Park Service, the agencies said.

According to Tamarack Camps’ website, the eight-week program Mirkes was participating in takes campers to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies and is designed for students entering the 11th grade.

A funeral service was scheduled for Friday in Farmington Hills.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman is a reporter covering health care, education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in San Francisco before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at