JBER soldier dies after fall during hike in Chugach State Park

A Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldier died Saturday after he fell while hiking near Rainbow Peak in Chugach State Park, authorities said.

Spc. Kyle Lee Gustafson, 34, of Minnesota fell on “a sheer rock hillside on a trail near Rainbow Peak” around 1 p.m., according to Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the Alaska State Troopers. Rainbow Peak is accessed from a Seward Highway trailhead by a roughly 5-mile round-trip hike that gains nearly 3,400 feet.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center responded to the call for help, McDaniel said. Gustafson was airlifted to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he died Saturday, according to a statement from JBER.

Gustafson joined the Army in December 2020 and arrived in Alaska in May, according to the statement. He previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Gustafson was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist with the 716th Ordnance Company, the statement said.