From: Ron Fieseler, 28 April 2000
Real de Catorce, SLP
Saturday night, April 22, 2000, Katherine and Alex were to have dinner
Franz and Maria. Katherine went to their home to get them while
waited at the plaza. Upon returning to the plaza, they could
Alex. They searched for him to no avail and finally went to
he would show up. After dinner, Katherine continued the search,
no results. Sunday morning, while eating breakfast at the
there was talk about someone who had fallen from the cliff west of
was killed. Franz soon arrived and told her it was Alex.
and other friends of Alex recovered the body. It was transported
ambulance to a funeral home in Matehuala. Alex's family was notified
they began to arrive from Mexico City early Monday. They
allowed Katherine to arrange the funeral and burial.
Alex was buried late Monday afternoon, April 24, 2000. Tony and
too late to attend, but Katherine described the services to us.
It was a
traditional Mexican funeral service and was held at the church in
Virtually the entire town was present at the services. Alex's
then carried on the shoulders of the men all the way to the cemetery
old church. As men tired during this arduous trek, others would
step in to
relieve them and carry on. Women and children followed behind
flowers and praying. He was lowered by hand-held ropes in to
grave, which was then filled by hand. A local friend and artisan
preparing a cross, and in a few months, after the grave site settles,
concrete covering will be constructed, again by his friends in town.
Alex's family was very touched by this outpouring of love and support.
Beginning Tuesday night, Katherine and her gringo contingent attended
participated in Rosary services conducted by some of Alex's
services occur once a day for the 9 days following the funeral and
traditional Catholic ceremony. It was heart-warming and touching
this level of love and concern by the local community over Alex's death.
His gravesite is in a prominent location and is easily found.
go to the old church and walk in the gate. Walk toward the church
until you get to the steps. Look to your right and you will see
tree about 50-60 feet away. Alex is buried next to this tree.
During the next couple of days we began to piece together some more
surrounding the accident. These details only resolve WHAT
night and do little to clarify the questions we all had as to WHY it
happened. Even those of us who were there to talk with people,
scene of the fall, and discuss the accident were unable to come to
conclusions on why the accident occurred. All we really know
is that Alex
had fallen and died. Any attempt to analyze the "why" of the
pure speculation. I suppose it is human nature to want to know
something happens. I know that I always do. However, I
been involved in other accidental deaths and have found that trying
reason out the "why" of an accident as opposed to the "what", is not
frustrating and futile, but generally counter-productive.
just that...accidents...and often confound, confuse, and defy our need
logic and order in events effecting us.
The time-line varies in minor details depending on who is describing
but apparently, after Katherine had gone for Franz and Maria, Alex
the Cafe Eucalipto. The singer there reported seeing Alex having
singing along, and appearing to be in good spirits. At some time
singer left, Alex went to the cantina/pool hall on the north side of
plaza where he had a couple of beers with some of his friends.
noticed anything out of the ordinary. Alex was just his normal
his normal Catorce thing. After he left the pool hall, no one
saw him again.
Those of you who have been to Catorce will probably recall the cliff
west side of town not far from Ed Alexander's house. A short
chain link fence offers a small bit of protection from the
don't know how far the drop is, but I would guess a couple of hundred
at least. If you follow the trails through the cactus to the
right of this
fence, you can walk out on a finger-like ridge extending west from
The accident site is on the south side of this ridge and is
100 yards west of the chain link fence.
Franz took us out there Wednesday to show the scene to us. The
off on the south side in a combination of very steep slopes, rocky
outcrops, small ledges, and sheer drops. Franz found skid marks
feet in the loose dirt and gravel on a steep slope leading to the site
the fall. There was also some broken sticks and a damaged prickly
to mark the route of the fall. A pair of scissors which Alex
found on a small ledge about 20 feet down. Alex hit several times
before coming to a rest. The medical report indicated he died
10:00pm and 11:00pm. and listed severe head trauma, broken neck, and
bone and tissue injuries. The doctor told Katherine that he
instantly with no pain.
It appears from these observations that Alex died an accidental death
he slipped, lost his balance on this steep slope, and was never able
recover. We do not think he purposely jumped or he would not have hit
rocks on his way down, nor would his scissors have fallen out on the
ledge. There is no reason to consider foul play. Alex had
dollars in his pockets and all his personal effects with him so robbery
not indicated. There had been no altercations with anyone in
any of the
places where Alex had been so a fight or violence is ruled out.
there is no evidence that anyone else was on the ridge with him.
There you have the basic facts surrounding this tragic accident and
are reasonably clear. What is not clear and what we question
is why he was
wandering out there alone, but we have no answer. With no
will probably never know. In the final analysis, why he was out
really doesn't matter all that much. What does matter is that
gone...and we will all miss him.
Alex loved Real de Catorce and its people. He enjoyed having a
shooting pool, laughing and joking with his friends. He was a
climber, and adventurer and always felt at home in wild, dark, high,
exposed places. His last few hours were filled with what he
appropriate that now, buried in Real de Catorce, he will continue to
with the people and places that he loved.
Adios, amigo mio.
Friday, April 28, 2000