Turnagain CrossFit in Alaska Mourns Loss of Member After Roof Collapse as GoFundMe Set Up

February 20, 2023 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit Turnagin
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The first weekend of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open is arguably one of the biggest for affiliates, however a CrossFit gym in Alaska instead is in mourning after a partial roof collapse left one member in critical condition while another member lost their life. 

Turnagain CrossFit located in Anchorage, Alaska had a partial roof collapse in their facility on Friday, February 17. One member was trapped and taken to the hospital in critical condition and another unfortunately didn’t make it out alive. This is a devastating loss to anyone, especially a gym with such a small and tight knit community. Not only will they need to repair the space they are also processing their loss. 

On that night, members were beginning to come to the gym for ‘Friday Night Lights’ and the place was packed, says Rebecca Fidler, one of the owners of Turnagain CrossFit. Shortly after the timer beeped at the 14:00 minute time cap of 23.1 the backside of the gym’s roof collapsed. Below is Rebecca and her husband Joshua’s re-telling of what happened that evening: 

  • “In real time it seemed almost slow motion and surreal. Some athletes retreated to the nearby wall-mounted rigs as a safer spot and were able to then get out. The sound was deafening. It sounded like an earthquake, which is typical for Alaska, but it was odd because the floor was not shaking. Then came the dust and debris filling the air, and you could see the sky and trees outside,” said the Fidler’s. 
  • “Next the water main broke and there was water spraying everywhere with no access to the water shut-off as it was in a different unit. A fellow athlete put his arm around me and initiated a quick prayer that everyone was safe.”
  • “Emergency response (911) was initiated as the kids were gathered outside in a vehicle away from the building. Many athletes got outside quickly and advised others to not come in. Some stayed inside searching for a voice coming from beneath the debris. Someone was trapped. She was so scared, and so were we.”
  • “Many athletes were searching for whatever they could to break through debris. Some with sledge hammers. It was too thick of a mess to get to her. A fellow athlete got close enough to her to hold her hand and help her remain as calm as she could before emergency personnel arrived.” 

The fire department and police department were called in to assist with the rescue. They discovered two individuals were pinned underneath the debris. They got the first trapped athlete out and transported to the hospital right away to get assessed. She is still currently being monitored. The next athlete, who is also a dear friend of the owners, did not make it. Her name was Sadie Huffer. She had recently returned to CrossFit after a brief hiatus and had only just recommitted to fitness. 

“She was on the pursuit of balance- whether to workout before or after her work day, and how to also maximize time with her family,” said Fidler. “As a fellow healthcare professional, she was at the point she knew she needed to make a change.” 

Huffer will be greatly missed by her community and described by the Fidler’s as always having “an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. She always turned tears of others into laughter and had a smile that will forever be etched in our hearts. Just as our time with her will always be etched into her pocketbook.”

A number of local affiliates in the area have volunteered to host Turnagain CrossFit athletes who want to complete the Open workouts at their gyms ‘Friday Night Lights’ or weekend open gym times. 

  • “We want to continue on through The Open. It is what our two athletes were there for that night, to better themselves and support the rest of the community. The least we can do is honor them by finishing strong and raising them up,” said Fidler. 
  • “We gathered with tears, sweat and conservation,” said the post’s caption. “Stepping into a new gym is a hard thing to do, but doing it together feels more like home,” according to an Instagram post from Turnagain CrossFit. 
  • The owners of a nearby gym called CrossFit Kainos have launched a GoFundMe, along with backing from all of the affiliate owners across the state. 

The Fidler’s say what comes next is finding a new home for Turnagain CrossFit and supporting the members and coaches who mean so much to them. 

“The biggest realization that keeps being spoken about is that our gym, and all CrossFit gyms for that matter, are so much more than four walls: they are the people within those walls that share birthday parties, Christmas dinners, summer vacations, marriages, deaths, children born, adoptions and so much more,” they said. 

The link to the GoFundMe page for Turnagain CrossFit can be found here

The link to a GoFundMe specifically for Sadie Huffer’s family can be found here.

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