Veteran Massachusetts journalist dies after 50-foot fall on Katahdin
A veteran Massachusetts journalist has died after a 50-foot fall on Katahdin.
Donald MacGillis, 75, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, worked as an editor for the Berkshire Eagle and Boston Globe, where he served as the newspaper editorial writer and later its national politics editor, according to the Berkshire Eagle, which described MacGillis as a “passionate hiker.”
“MacGillis regarded journalism as the noblest of professions. … If you weren’t digging deeper, Don would let you know it,” Kevin Moran, The Eagle’s executive editor, told the newspaper.
His son, ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis, announced the news Thursday morning, Oct. 8 in a tweet, calling his father a “consummate” journalist and his “ultimate role model.”
A request for comment sent to MacGillis wasn’t immediately returned.
Donald MacGillis and his nephew Paul MacGillis, 25, set out to climb Katahdin on the Dudley Trail from Chimney Pond about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 according to Baxter State Park. The Dudley Trail reopened recently after park officials closed it in 2016 for rerouting following a rock slide.
The pair became lost in fog after dark on the Knife Edge Trail near Katahdin’s South Peak.
Paul MacGillis was able to call park rangers for help just after midnight Wednesday, Oct. 7 and rangers coached the two through sheltering in place until daylight.
Rescuers reached Donald MacGillis and his nephew about 9 a.m. Wednesday, and a Maine Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter airlifted Donald MacGillis, who was suffering from hypothermia and critical injuries after a 50-foot fall during the night, from Katahdin about 10:30 a.m. before returning an hour later for his nephew, according to the park.
Donald MacGillis was flown to Millinocket Regional Airport before being brought to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Paul MacGillis, who suffered from hypothermia and exhaustion, was flown to Bangor International Airport before being brought to Eastern Maine Medical Center, according to the park.
Attempts to reach Baxter State Park officials weren’t immediately successful.
He is survived by his wife Ingrid, son Alec MacGillis and Lucy MacGillis, according to the Berkshire Eagle.
It’s the first death on Katahdin since at least the summer of 2017. There have been more than 60 deaths on Maine’s tallest mountain since 1933, according to Randi Minetor’s 2018 book “Death on Katahdin.” It was also the second rescue on Katahdin this week. A 13-year-old hiker from Holden was airlifted from the Abol Trail on Sunday evening, Oct. 4 after suffering a medical emergency.