Donald MacGillis became lost while hiking through Mount Katahdin in Maine on Wednesday and died after suffering injuries from a fall

By Jason Duaine Hahn
October 13, 2020 06:33 PM
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Credit: Alec MacGillis/Facebook

A beloved journalist from the East Coast died last week after he suffered severe injuries from a 50-foot fall while hiking through Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Donald MacGillis, 74, was hiking through the mountain with his nephew, Paul MacGillis, when the two became disoriented in the heavy fog and powerful winds that hit the area on Tuesday, according to the Berkshire Eagle.

"They were literally worried about being blown off the mountain," MacGillis’ son, Alec MacGillis, told the newspaper.

The two called for help and were told to stay where there were, but with temperatures dropping deep into the night, MacGillis walked away from the area and fell 50-feet onto rocks, leaving him with injuries to his chest and leg.

Because of weather conditions, MacGillis wouldn't be rescued until 10 a.m. the next morning, when he was airlifted to a hospital in Bangor, his son told WBZ-TV. MacGillis was hypothermic and died a short time after reaching the hospital.

MacGillis was a former executive editor with the Berkshire Eagle and worked for the Boston Globe as an editorial writer and national politics editor.

"MacGillis regarded journalism as the noblest of professions. A newsman through and through, he loved breaking the news and demanded that journalists dig deep and investigate and report the sides of the story the public wasn’t getting," said Kevin Moran, Berkshire Eagle’s current executive editor.

"If you weren’t digging deeper, Don would let you know it," he added. "That we lost such a vibrant man is a painful tragedy, and the entire Eagle family sends the MacGillis family our heartfelt condolences."

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In a post to social media, Alec called his father a "consummate" newsman and one of the biggest influences on his life.

"All, I am very sorry to report the death of my father, newspaper journalist Donald MacGillis, after a hiking accident on Mt Katahdin in Maine," Alec — who works for ProPublica — wrote on Twitter.

"He was the consummate local/metro newsman in his career as an editor at the Berkshire Eagle & Boston Globe," he added, "and he was my ultimate model."