ANCHORAGE, Alaska, November 22 – A 28-year-old Kenyan runner for the University of Alaska Anchorage who suffered frostbite after more than two days in severe cold, had his feet amputated, school officials said on Monday.
Marko Cheseto, who competed for the college in cross country and athletics, was the subject of a city-wide search earlier this month after roommates reported him missing as two heavy snowstorms struck Anchorage.
Cheseto was found outside a hotel near campus on November 9 after what police say was more than two days of exposure to brutal winter conditions while wearing only blue jeans, a jacket and running shoes but no hat or gloves.
University officials said in a posting on the team’s sports website that Cheseto suffered severe frostbite to his hands and feet and the damage was so severe to his feet that amputation above the ankle was required on both legs.
Cheseto will remain hospitalized while recovering.
“I would like to thank the university, the city of Anchorage and all of the volunteers that searched for me during my troubled times,” Cheseto said.
“As some may know, I’ve been going through a lot of personal issues. 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 apologize for any problems that I may have caused.”
Cheseto, who was studying nursing, left the campus a day after accompanying the college cross-country team to a regional meet in Spokane, Washington. He had won the meet the pat two years in his final seasons of eligibility but had another season of athletics competition planned next year following the death of a Kenyan teammate.
Steve Cobb, the school’s athletic director, said the university would continue to support Cheseto.
“We take our responsibility and commitment to the student-athletes entrusted to our care very seriously,” Cobb said. “We have been very supportive of Marko and will continue to support him during this difficult time.”