Into the Wild, the story of Christopher McCandless, a young idealist man who starved to death in Alaska in 1992, may sound romantic, but it’s a warning — the Alaskan wilderness kills.
While trying to access the abandoned bus where McCandless died, Veramika Maikamava, a 24-year-old newlywed woman from Belarus, drowned trying to cross the fast-flowing Teklanika River. She reportedly lost her footing and let go of the rope that stretches across the river to help hikers.
In the novel and the movie telling McCandless’ story, the young man died, unable to cross the same river to get the food he needed to survive.
Maikamava tried crossing the river just before midnight in search of a shortcut to the bus. Piotr Markielau, her husband, was unable to rescue her in time. He was able to pull his wife from the water a short distance away downriver, but it was too late.
Since the popularity of Into the Wild, the abandoned bus has become a sort of pilgrimage for fans of the story. Hikers often visit the bus in an attempt to pay tribute to McCandless and its ill-fated adventure, but many need to be rescued. Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for Alaska’s state troopers told Reuters that there has been 15 bus-related search and rescue operations by the state between 2009 and 2017.