University of Wisconsin-Madison

IceCube extends condolences on the passing of South Pole worker

The IceCube Collaboration is saddened to hear of the loss of Thomas Lawrence Atkins, a contract worker at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. We greatly appreciate the sacrifice that contractors make to support science teams like ours at the South Pole. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Atkins’ family and friends at this difficult time.

The full NSF release is included below.

Antarctic contract employee dies at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

December 1, 2014 The U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation (NSF) wish to express our deepest sympathy for the untimely passing of Thomas Lawrence Atkins at South Pole Station this weekend.

A contract worker at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, Atkins, 40, of Greenville, Ky., died of apparently natural causes and his next-of-kin have been notified.

He failed to report to work on Dec. 1, local date (U.S. stations in Antarctica keep New Zealand time) and was found deceased in his room at the station.

Atkins was employed by PAE, an Arlington, Va.-based subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, which provides logistical support to the NSF-managed U.S. Antarctic Program. He worked as a technician at the station as a member of the austral summer workforce; this was his first deployment.

His body was flown from the South Pole to McMurdo Station, NSF's logistics hub on the continent, which is roughly 800 air miles from the Pole. His remains will be flown to New Zealand and his body subsequently returned to the United States. Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland, New Zealand are assisting with appropriate consular services.

Amundsen-Scott is one of three year-round research stations NSF maintains in Antarctica in support of U.S. Antarctic Program science.