Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cause of Death - "Compelling Unknown Force"

Creatures of civilization, we often forget about the perils of the wilderness. Only when we see unfortunate news headlines such as "Hikers Missing Presumed Dead" are we reminded that beyond our comfortable homes Mother Nature’s ruthlessness has never waned. Weeks later, the news stirs our memories with reports that the hikers are found with details of their demise. Their death blamed on loss of direction combined with weather conditions leading to exposure then hypothermia then death. The hiker’s cause of death is typical for their predicament, but what if the cause death was unusual? What if, their cause of death could not be attributed to exposure, accident, murder or even suicide? What if doctors determined their cause of death as a "compelling unknown force"?

Igor Dyatlov

The "compelling unknown force" was determined to be the cause of death for several members of a group of ski hikers in 1959 on the Kholat Syakhl mountain (a Mansi name, meaning Mountain of the Dead) which is part of the Ural mountains in Russa. The party was led by Igor Dyatlov and consisted of students and graduates of the Ural Polytechnical Institute. The hikers set out January 31st. The goal was to Otorten mountain, but the season of the year determined the trek to be the most difficult. Still, a confidence and relaxed atmosphere surrounded the group who were all experienced in long ski tours and mountain hikes. The group consisted of:

Igor Dyatlov, the group's leader
Zinaida Kolmogorova
Lyudmila Dubinina
Alexander Kolevatov
Rustem Slobodin
Yuri Krivonischenko
Yuri Doroshenko
Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle
Alexander Zolotarev
Dyaltlov, as the responsbile leaders, agreed to send a telegraph to the group's sports club when they returned to the city of Vizhai. The expectation was that the telegraph would not be sent later than February 12. The date of February 12 came and went, but, as typical of difficult hiking expeditions, it was thought the group was delayed. The family members of the hikers grew more worried and pressed authorities to send a rescue party to search for their loved ones. Teachers and students from the Ural Polytechnical institute volunteered to search, however, soon police and military were called in to assist.

On February 26, searchers found the abandon camp of hikers and the badly damaged tent. Footprints led toward the edge of a nearby woods and under an old pine they found the remnants of a fire and the bodies of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko. Both were shoeless and dressed only in their underwear. Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin were found separate distances from the camp, but all seemed to be in poses trying to get back to the tent. The remaining 4 hikers were not found until May 4 in a ravine in a valley that was not far from the large pine tree.

The cause of death for Krivonischenko, Doroshenko, Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin was hypothermia. One had a small crack in the skull, but doctors determined this was not significant enough to cause death. The cause of death for the 4 found in May, was a little more suspicious.
Three of the four sustained fatal injuries. Thibeaux-Brignolle had major skull damage, and both Dubunina and Zolotarev had major chest fractures. Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny who examined the bodies said that the force to cause the chest fractures was extremely high and likened more to a car crash. What was even more confusing was that there were no external wounds. It looked more like a high level of pressure crippled the hikers. Adding to the mystery was that one woman was found with her tongue missing.
The investigation started to unveil more unusual circumstances surrounding the dismal fate of the group:
  • High doses of radiation contamination were on the clothes of few of the victims. The cause of the radiation was never determined.
  • Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny stated the fatal injuries suffered by three of the hikers could not have been caused by a human being
  • All died 6 to 8 hours after eating their last meal.
  • Relatives claimed the victims skin looked a strange brown tan color.
  • Another group of hikers claimed to see several orange "spheres" above the area on the mountain where the group perished. These spheres were also reported by the meteorology service and the military between February and March 1959.
The mountain pass where the group lost their lives was renamed the Dyatlov Pass in honor of the victims. The Dyatlov Foundation was formed to convince the Russian officials to reopen the case since the cause of the deaths was never successfully solved.

Speculators believe that due to the radiation found that the military were conducting experiments in the area and were unaware of the groups presence. Others believe that the spheres were UFOs and they killed the hikers. Comparisons have been made to the Cattle Mutilation phenomena which is also blamed on extraterrestrials. Cattle Mutilations are incidents where cattle have been stripped of flesh and muscle with incredible precision in a matter of minutes. The cattle usually have no indication of bleeding and sometimes appear to have been dropped at a significant height due to the indentations in the group beneath. The Cattle Mutilations are eerily similar to the injuries of the hikers with the chest fractures and tongue missing. Still, no one has solved the mystery of the Dyatlov party, unless of course, it's been covered up?

Kerri L. Schutlz

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