By Dan Fiorucci
5:21 PM AKDT, July 8, 2012
In this year's "Mount Marathon Race" not only has one runner disappeared, but tonight (Sunday), another runner -- badly injured during the steep mountain run -- remains hospitalized in a coma.
41-year-old Matthew Kenney of Anchorage, the father of 2, was badly hurt in a 30-foot-fall last Wedensday. He suffered brain injuries and a compound fracture of his leg.
The slopes on the Marathon Mountain can be as steep as the pitch of a roof -- and such slopes can extend for hundreds of feet. Kenney, an experienced runner, apparently lost his footing during the dangerous descent.
On the day of the race, an ambulance rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors stabilized him.
He was ultimately transported to Anchorage's "Regional Hospital", where he remains in Critical Condition at this hour.
Doctors have been draining fluid from Kenney's skull -- in an effort to relieve intracranial pressure -- and it was only tonight, (Sunday) that they were able to close the drain. That's a positive sign. If the pressure does not go up again, then it may be possible to remove Kenney from I.C.U, so that an M.R.I scan can be conducted on his skull, to determine the extent of his brain injury.
Right now it's just a waiting game, which is hard on friends and family. Kenney's 2 young children, Justin and and Savanna don't fully understand badly hurt their father is. "Ya know, they're young kids," says family friend Brad Precosky, his voice cracking "They're 12 and 10. And they're -- ya know -- they haven't been told the extent of how bad it could be. But they're waitin' for daddy to wake-up. "
Precosky said that his friend, who took part in 8 "Mountain Marathons", understood the risks of the race. He says the safety briefing makes it impossible for anyone to ignore how dangerous participation can be.
And tonight Precosky has two main worries on his mind. He wants nothing more than to see Kenney awaken from his coma, and talk again. Right now, those injuries remain life-threatening.
Precosky is also worried about Kenney's wife Gretchen and the couple's son and daughter. Kenney has health insurance, but this accident is still likely to have serious financial repurcussions. In order to help the family, Precoski has set up a special account at Well's Fargo. It's the "Matt Kenney Fund" and he says people can donate to it simply by walking into any branch of the bank and saying they'd like to make a contribution.
Meanwhile, with respect to a different tragedy on the mountain, Alaska State Troopers were forced to suspend their search for a missing runner -- who disappeared in the same race that badly injured Kenney.
66-year-old Michael LeMaitre, also of Anchorage, was last seen at 6 P.M. Wednesday near the top of the course. He never made it to the finish line.
A 72-hour search using tracking dogs, technical climbers and helicopters has so far turned-up no sign of LeMaitre. And because 4 nights have now passed, under wet and chilly conditions, hopes that he will be found alive are fading.
Searchers were working under the assumption that LeMaitre had possibly wandered off the trail and suffered a fall. He was wearing only a t-shirt, running shorts and shoes. The odds of him surviving 4 nights with wet weather -- and temperatures dipping into the 40's -- are not good.
The main fear now is that the searchers, themselves, could be endangered if they continue to work the treacherous slopes -- with no indication of where the missing runner is. So a decision to suspend the formal search was reached Saturday night.
It will resume if any evidence is found which promises to lead searchers to LeMaitre.
Despite the suspension of the formal search, the Seward Fire Department continued what was described as an "informal" search on Sunday, using technical climbers.
All 20 square miles of the mountain have now been examined without any sign of LeMaitre turning up.
Infrared imaging of the mountain also failed to return the heat-signature of a human being.
It's still remotely possible that LeMaitre remains injured -- under dense brush -- somewhere on the lower slope of the mountain. But until some evidence of his whereabouts appears, authorities are reluctant to risk the lives of rescue crews on the steep, treacherous slopes.
Until then, the State Trooper search will remain suspended.
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