HomeOutdoorsFormer Boston Globe Editor Dies of Hypothermia After 50ft Fall While Hiking

Former Boston Globe Editor Dies of Hypothermia After 50ft Fall While Hiking

by Jennifer Shea
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Former Boston Globe editor Donald MacGillis, 74, died Wednesday from hypothermia and injuries suffered in a 50-ft. fall while hiking Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Hiking through rain and fog

MacGillis was hiking the mountain with his nephew, Paul MacGillis, 25. The two had gotten lost on Tuesday amid rain and fog. Park rangers told them to shelter in place overnight, according to the Daily Mail.

The pair began their hike up the Dudley Trail around 11:30 a.m. and then continued across the Knife Edge trail. As it got dark and the weather worsened, they lost the path, the Portland Press Herald reported. They contacted 911 at 12:30 a.m., and Baxter State Park Chief Ranger Dan Rinard told them a rescue operation would begin at first light.

At 3:10 a.m., Paul MacGillis called back and told rangers his uncle had tumbled more than 50 feet. As the night wore on, both MacGillises became hypothermic. Hypothermia sets in when the human body loses heat faster than it can produce it, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature.

Rinard reached out to the Maine Army National Guard for help as it got close to daylight. The guard sent a Blackhawk helicopter, but fog prevented it from getting to the hikers.

Helicopter rescue

Finally, around 10:30 a.m., a break in the fog allowed the helicopter crew to send down a medic, who loaded Donald MacGillis into the helicopter, with help from rangers. They flew him to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. He was in critical condition by that point.

Paul MacGillis went by ambulance to the hospital. He received treatment for hypothermia and exhaustion.

Donald MacGillis worked as an editorial writer and national politics editor for the Globe. Before that, he served as executive editor of The Berkshire Eagle. The Eagle reported that the newspaper’s current and former staff were “devastated” by the news.

His son, Alec MacGillis, is also a journalist. Alec announced his father’s death on Twitter on Thursday.

“He was the consummate local/metro newsman in his career as an editor at the Berkshire Eagle & Boston Globe, and he was my ultimate model,” he posted.