The infamous bus in which Christopher McCandless, the subject of John Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into The Wild,” found shelter and ultimately died of starvation, was removed from the Alaskan wilderness via helicopter on Thursday.
Fans of the book and its subsequent 2007 film adaptation directed by Sean Penn have sought out the bus for years, risking their lives to do so. According to the U.S. Army, 15 people have had to be rescued and two have died on their treks to find what they call “The Magic Bus.”
The bus has become such a safety concern that the Department of Natural Resources decided to remove it from its resting place near the Teklanika River in Alaska.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources commissioner Corri A. Feige told the Army. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I’m glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation.”
The bus was airlifted by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and has been placed at a secure site. Inside the vehicle, the aircrew found a suitcase that they will send to McCandless’ family. Discussions are being held to possibly display the bus at a safe location for the public to enjoy.
Krakauer, who visited the bus himself in 1993 while writing “Into the Wild,” told The Washington Post that he was “gobsmacked” to find out about the removal of the bus. During his visit to the bus, Krakauer said he found it untouched, with many of McCandless’ belongings still inside.
Those that followed him have not been as respectful, as Krakauer said that the bus has since been vandalized and various parts have been stolen.
“This place has been desecrated and now it’s been obliterated,” Krakauer told The Washington Post. “But it’s really tragic people keep dying doing stupid stuff.”
Krakauer also confirmed that he feels some responsibility for the people who attempted to find the bus, including those who met extreme danger while doing so.
“I wish the bus could have remained how it was,” Krakauer said. “But I wrote the book that ruined it.”
Watch the removal of the bus below.