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[at-l] AT death

Sorry for two downers in a row here, but I picked up the paper this morning
and found this.  I was shocked that we hadn't heard about it here first.  Is
this the first AT fatality this year?  Do we know anything else about this?

(From The Union Leader, Manchester, NH, Saturday, August 23, 1997):  


Officials were perplexed early yesterday morning as to why a 22-year-old
hiker who had already negotiated a considerable stretch of the Appalachian
Trail would suddenly get sick and die on a NH mountain.

Jacob John Cram, of Sloan STreet, Clemson, SC died above the treeline on Mt.
Lincoln late WEdnesday.

An autopsy late yesterday at the STate Medical Examiner's Office in Concord
found the manner of death was natrual...the actaul cause of death will nto
be known until after blood work and medical tests.

More than 50 volunteers worked nearly 12 hours Thrusday to bring Cram's body
down the mountain to Franconia Notch.

The weather conditions were less than ideal, with heavy rains and blowing
widns, but members of the mountaineering comunity were speculating on why a
man so young would succumb.

The hiker had todl an Appalachian Mountain Club member who came to his aid
that he had started hiking at the trail's half-way poin in Harpers Ferry, w.
Va., intending to go tot he norhtern end of the trail at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. 

Passing hikers found Cram above treeline not far from the top of 5,108-food
Mount Lincoln on WEdnesday afternoon.  One of them walked to the AMC's
Greenleaf hut, some miles north over the Lafayette Ridge, to alert rescuers.
At about 6 pm AMC personnel reached CRam with food, water, warm clothing and
medical equipment.   

THe AMC's Fred Mason told The Union Leader that Cram was incoherent when
they found him, but after they gave him food and warmed him up, he said he
had been sick the night before but now felt better. 

Mason said as they tried to move him down the mountain Cram apparently had a
seizure and ceased breathing.  Attmepts to resuscitate him were
unsuccessful.  Time of death was listed as 9 pm.

Cram had graduated in May from Clemson University with a degree in engineering.

A former professor who know Cram and a former instructor who'd hiked with
him said Cram was in good shape and kept in good condiiton with gym workouts
as well as hiking.

Dr. Frank Hubbell of the Conway Walk-in Clinic said the death would remain a
mystery until investigators gather more information and get results of blood
work and other medical tests. 
He said many questions comre to mind.  Did Cram have an underlying medical
condition or a weak organ that failed understress?  WHat happened before he
got sick?  "Did he eat any plants or wild mustrooms, was he poisoned?"Hubbel
said spoiled or contaminated food could be a culprit, as well.

"There has to be a reson why this would happen to an otherwise young,
healthy individual.  He could have come in contact with some sort of toxin,
even insect repellents,"  Hubbell commented.  "there are a million questions
and no answers."  

HUbbell said it appeared Cram's rescuers did everything right.  "But
suddenly something happened....an inbred problem finally caught up with him."

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