A long distance runner who spent more than two days in freezing winter temperatures without winter gear has had his feet amputated just above the ankles.
Cheseto was seen at about 7pm in a UAA building on Nov 6, a Sunday night, as two snow storms started to blanket the city. His room-mates reported him missing the next morning. The disappearance prompted a citywide search.
Cheseto was found early the following Wednesday outside a hotel near the campus. He was 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 Cheseto was found, paramedics could not remove the runner’s shoes because they were frozen to his feet.
UAA officials said Cheseto’s hands are expected to make a full recovery but his lower extremities were severely injured and required amputation. He is expected to remain admitted to hospital for recovery and rehabilitation, UAA officials said.
University police interviewed 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, 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.”
Cheseto left the campus one day after accompanying the UAA cross-country team to the NCAA Division II West Region championships in Spokane, Washington .