Man Killed in Bird Creek Avalanche Identified
Trooper spokesperson Beth Ipsen says troopers got a call at about 11:15 this morning after 41-year-old Dale Brabec did not show up for work.
Students and staff are grieving after the loss of a West High School science teacher.
The body of 41-year-old Dale Brabec was found in an avalanche off of a Bird Creek Trail Tuesday afternoon.
“We saw him yesterday…he was all happy and fine. We didn't expect an avalanche to happen or anything,” said Jacob Dezarn, one of Brabec’s students.
Brabec’s death surprised and saddened both his students and colleagues who say they have lost not only a good teacher, but also a good man.
“It was really weird to see him yesterday and then all of sudden he was just gone,” said Dezarn.
When Brabec didn’t show up to teach class that morning, friends searched one of his favorite hiking areas, Bird Creek, and discovered Brabec’s car unattended.
After a helicopter search and hike, Alaska State Troopers and members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group recovered his body in a small avalanche. Officials believe Brabec triggered the avalanche while sledding through chutes along Bird Ridge Trail.
“His sled was spotted first because it was a metallic or metal sled so it kind of reflected in the light. They got closer and they actually saw part of him sticking out from the debris,” said Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen.
In addition to teaching physics and astronomy, West High School Principal Rick Stone said Brabec was integral in other ways, like coaching swimming and diving, during his 10 years at the school.
“He reached a whole variety of students in many different ways…not only in the classroom but in the swimming pools and in the hallways. He is going to be a huge loss,” said Stone.
Students remember Brabec as a helper and motivator whose presence and impact will be hard to replace.
“It’s most definitely not going to be the same in that class anymore,” said Dezarn.
School psychologists will be made available for students and staff as well as extra substitutes.
Plans to remember Dale Brabec will be made sometime in the near future.
In the meantime, Alaska State Troopers want to warn people that despite the warmer weather, avalanche season is ongoing and snow continues to melt in the mountains, which can trigger an avalanche.
The avalanche that killed Dale Brabec was only 20 to 40 feet; officials warn to be careful and to not be alone when you are out hiking.