Juneau Woman Found Off Salmon Creek Trail Dies

A 61-year-old woman died after being found in the water off Salmon Creek Trail near Juneau Sunday afternoon. Her body is being sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

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Bartlett Regional Hospital employee Sandra Gelber was a physical therapist in the Rehabilitation Services Department.

Capital City Fire/Rescue responded at 4 p.m. to a 911 call about an unconscious woman, says Assistant Chief Ed Quinto.

Sandra Gelber was found in the water off Salmon Creek Trail about a mile from the gate. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Sandra Gelber was found in the water off Salmon Creek Trail about a mile from the gate. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

“A couple hikers reported to dispatch that they were on Salmon Creek Trail, that they found a female in the water along one of the creeks along the trail. It was approximately about a mile up from the gate. She was in the water. They brought her up, started doing CPR and they called us,” Quinto says.

Quinto says Gelber was found approximately 100 yards past where the road is washed out, and about 40 feet off the trail downhill. He says she was unconscious and in critical condition.

It’s unknown how long she was in the water before she was found.

“It appears like she was either hiking or jogging up there. She was dressed in jogging clothes and we don’t know how she got into the water,” Quinto says.

An ambulance transported Gelber to Bartlett Regional Hospital. She was pronounced dead there around 4:30 p.m, according to the hospital.

Bartlett spokesman Jim Strader says Gelber arrived at work Sunday morning and was done with her shift at 3 p.m.

“We’re kind of in shell shock to be honest. She was very, very well loved by all of her coworkers and her patients as well,” Strader says.

Gelber joined Bartlett in 2009. Prior to that, she was at Sitka Community Hospital. A statement sent to hospital employees by interim CEO Jeff Egbert described Gelber as “an avid outdoors person” and “she died doing what she loved best; out on the trail, appreciating the beautiful place we call home.”

Gelber leaves behind husband Tim Riley and two college-aged children.

AEL&P closed Salmon Creek Trail at the end of January when an 80-foot section of the road was washed out. AEL&P put an orange safety barrier around the slide and reopened the trail last week.