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Woman hit by glacier dies

SEWARD, Alaska -- A half-ton of ice broke off a glacier in a wilderness area as a California couple was photographing it, fatally injuring the woman and causing minor injuries to her husband, the National Park Service said.

Thais Grabenauer, 59, of Napa, died Wednesday night at Providence Hospital in Anchorage where she was flown after suffering multiple fractures and internal injuries in the accident Tuesday in Kenai Fjords National Park.

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Her husband Ken, 66, suffered cuts and bruises on his face and chest. He was treated at the hospital in Seward and released.

'It looks like Mrs. Grabenauer was up on the ice and (her husband) was taking a picture when the ice broke away from above,' Kay Bruce's, the park's acting superintendent, said Thursday.

The accident happened at the Exit Glacier, northwest of Seward.

'They were taking pictures 3 or 4 feet from the face of Exit Glacier when a large chunk of ice estimated to weigh a half-ton calved off,' park spokeswoman Nancy Stromsem said.

Chunks of ice regularly break off Alaska glaciers in the spring and summer, a process called calving.

This attracts boats full of people to the glaciers around the Gulf of Alaska where they can see icebergs splash into the sea. But Exit Glacier is on land, and people can walk right up to the face of it.

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'As far we know, it's just doing its regular thing,' Stromsem said of the glacier. She said she was unaware of any other accidents involving calving glaciers.

Exit Glacier is about 10 miles northwest of Seward and about 75 miles south of Anchorage.

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