The “Into the Wild” Bus Claims Another Life

In 1992, Chris McCandless lived for several months in a bus left in the Alaskan wilderness. The bus had served as a shelter for a construction crew, and when the job was over, they left the bus behind. McCandless spent the summer in the bus, but eventually starved to death.

His story was immortalised by Jon Krakauer, who chronicled McCandles’ trip from a sheltered life in Washington D.C. to the bus in Alaska in his book, Into The Wild. Later, in 2007, Sean Penn wore, directed and produced a movie by the same name, starring Emile Hirsch as McCandless. All that recognition has become a very tempting tale to adventurous hikers who try to make it to McCandless’ final resting place.

But the trip is dangerous; just recently yet another life was claimed in this wild region.

Piotr and Veramika Maikamava, both 24, had just gotten married and were on their way to visit the site of the bus. Part of the trip requires crossing the Teklanika River along the Stampede Trail. It was there that Veramika was washed downstream and swept under the water. Because of recent rainfall, the river was running higher than normal, making it even more dangerous. Piotr found his wife’s body 75 to 100 feet downriver.

This isn’t the first time that someone has died trying to get to the bus. In 2010, a 29-year-old Swiss woman was also drowned in the Taklanika River—in the same spot as Veramika. Between 2009 and 2017, 15 state-generated search and rescue operations involving the bus have happened.

Each time there is an incident, the debate over getting rid of the bus is rekindled. Sean Doogan, a local columnist in the area, shares, “I would say that most people who live out here want the bus gone.” As dangerous as the hike appears to be, that may be a sound sentiment.