Vince's Cross on the tip of Hut Point. It was erected by members of Scott's Discovery expedition in March 1902,
in remembrance of the death of Seaman George T. Vince, who slipped off of a cliff and drowned while trying to
return to the vessel during a blizzard in 1902. Vince was the first person to die in McMurdo Sound. South of the
peninsula, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker is patrolling. This January 2015 photo by Peter Rejcek is from the
USAP Photo Library (link to original).
Four members of the U. S. Antarctic program have died at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station...
Andrew was scheduled to winter at Pole, but just before the end of the summer season he was crushed between a cargo sled and an LC-130 aircraft during cargo unloading operations. At that time of the year the temperatures can be brutal, and cold temperatures at Pole mean that severe ice fog is generated by the aircraft propellers. This results in very poor visibility and a dangerous working condition. Please visit my memorial page with photos and tributes from friends and family. ("ASA" was Antarctic Support Activity, the Navy operating organization that provided station support at the time as part of NSFA (US Naval Support Force Antarctica). The photo on the plaque is one of several provided to me by his family.
Casey was a summer cook who had previously wintered at Palmer. He was digging out snow from the vertical air intake shaft in the fan room when he was crushed to death by snow that fell down from the shaft on top of him. (The fan room, also known as the blue room, was a small unheated plenum arch off of the main entrance that was built to circulate fresh air through the domed station after it became buried.) Casey's ashes were strewn over the TransAntarctic Mountains between McMurdo and Pole, at his parents' request. Here are some photos and a link to the memorial page by Martha Kane Savage, who was there. The photo on the plaque is from the 1978 Palmer winterover composite on display in the GWR stairwell at Palmer Station.
Rodney was an Australian astrophysicist who was spending his second Pole winter, this time working on the AST/RO (Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory) project. He died of methanol poisoning which became evident after he experienced breathing problems while walking back to the dome from his lab across the skiway. The photo on the plaque is one of many on the CARA memorial and tribute page; here are links to these and other information sources. This and the first two plaques were created in 2008 by CARA/SCOARA coworker Robert Spotz, with assistance from Jerry Marty and myself, and donated to the station in 2008.
Thomas Lawrence Atkins, PAE, 1 December 2014
Thomas, a master electrician from Greenville, Muhlenberg County, KY, was working as a controls technician. On 1 December he failed to show up for work and then was discovered deceased in his room. Here is the official NSF press release; the photo on the plaque is from his hometown obituary, and the plaque photo is from 2017 winterover Mike Rice.
It is a recent tradition at major dinners for a table to be set in remembrance of those departed. Above is a photo from the 2015 sunset dinner, courtesy of 2015 winterover Zak Morgan.
The 2009 winterovers were the first to pay tribute to the departed men by providing this special table for them at their sunset dinner, as seen in this photo by Marc Weekley.The three photo plaques seen above were created by longtime CARA/SCOARA/University of Chicago Polie Robert Spotz, and donated to the station in 2008.
The question has been asked, "How many other people have died at Pole?" Scott's party comes to mind, but they were hundreds of miles away when they met their famously unfortunate end. In addition to the 3 U. S. Antarctic program members above, 3 tourist skydivers died on 7 December 1997 when they hit the snow surface with unopened parachutes (more information).
At the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch is the U. S. Navy memorial to all Americans who died in Antarctic operations through the disestablishment of the Naval Support Force Antarctica operations in March 1998. My January 2004 photos:
Billy-Ace Baker has compiled a list of all of the members of the U. S. Antarctic programs who have died in Antarctica through 1999; that list is presented by Dave Riley with appropriate music here...
Another strange inland station tragedy: Carl Disch, a National Bureau of Standards scientist at Byrd didn't follow the rope line back from his lab to the station during the 1965 winter. He was never found.
Deaths immediately following the winter are also devastating to the w/o crew, as I can attest. Gary Rosenberger, one of the 1977 Pole Souls, did not make it home either. He died in New Zealand shortly after we left the ice (Gary). And Alistair Walker, 1989 SPASE guy, died in a traffic accident in England (while asleep in the back seat) only a week after the end of his winter.