Marko Cheseto, the star UAA long distance runner who had his feet amputated last month after going missing for several days in a snowstorm, was struggling with depression at the time of his disappearance, according to a newly-released police report.
According to the UAA campus police report, Cheseto was struggling with sadness after the suicide of his good friend and fellow Kenyan countryman William Ritekwiang in February of this year.
Parts of the police report are redacted, but the document still gives the clearest look yet into the events of November 6, the day Cheseto went missing.
The report said that Cheseto woke that Sunday feeling “unhappy.”
He tried to do some school work, but the computer system he needed wasn’t working.
The 28-year-old then tried to talk to a friend, ‘to tell him how negative he was feeling about his life and how he was having to struggle to get through life,’ but that friend needed to leave for work, according to the police report.
Cheseto then went back to campus, but again, the computer system wasn’t working.
He met with friends for dinner but wasn’t hungry.
Cheseto told police that he then began running on the Chester Creek Trail.
At some point Cheseto said he passed out.
He stated he couldn’t see and didn’t remember anything else until he woke up. By then, it was snowing and Cheseto was laying under a tree with snow covering his legs.
Cheseto’s coach said that’s when the young man decided to fight for his life.
“What he does remember is waking up and thinking this is not the place he wants to die,” said UAA track and cross-country coach Michael Friess said. “At that point you have a choice. Are you going to get up and move on and face all the consequences, all the issues he knows that are in front of him, is he going to do that or is he still going to be on the ground? He decided to pull himself up.”
Friess said Cheseto is mentally in a better place now and that he wants to help others.
He said Cheseto has also talked about training for the Paralympics.
“He knows that would be one way to inspire others and he wants to do that,” Friess said.