Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Runner loses frost-bitten feet

Missing student Marko Cheseto was found with severe hypothermia (The Anchorage Daily News)
A rescuer and his avalanche rescue dog search the banks of a creek on the UAA campus for runner Marko Cheseto in Anchorage, Alaska (AP)

A long-distance runner who spent more than two days in freezing winter temperatures without winter gear has had his feet amputated.

Marko Cheseto, 28, is one of several Kenyan runners who competed for the University of Alaska Anchorage in cross-country and track. The amputations were reported on the UAA Athletic Department website.

Mr Cheseto was seen at about 7pm in a UAA building on November 6, a Sunday night, as two snowstorms started to blanket Anchorage. His roommates reported him missing the next morning and the disappearance prompted a city-wide search.

He was found early the following Wednesday outside a hotel near the campus, wearing athletic shoes, a jacket and blue jeans but no hat or gloves. He was suffering from hypothermia and severe frostbite on his feet and hands.

The hotel manager told the Anchorage Daily News that when Mr Cheseto was found, paramedics could not remove his shoes because they were frozen to his feet.

UAA officials said Mr Cheseto's hands were expected to recover but his lower extremities were severely injured and required amputation. He was expected to remain in hospital for recovery and rehabilitation, UAA officials said.

University police interviewed Mr Cheseto after he was found and reported he had suffered a "personal crisis" when he disappeared. Authorities concluded he had spent the entire time outside.

In a statement on the athletic department website, Mr Cheseto thanked volunteers and professionals who searched for him.

"As some may know, I've been going through a lot of personal issues," he said. "While I am still recovering - both physically and emotionally - I will do my very best to give back to the community that has helped me so much and to my home country, Kenya. I sincerely apologise for any problems that I may have caused."

Mr Cheseto left the campus one day after accompanying the UAA cross-country team to the NCAA Division II West Region championships in Spokane, Washington.

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