Search to Recover Missing Akiak Travelers Continues

by Daysha Eaton on December 18, 2014

141218 BSAR Camera

Crews used an underwater camera this week. Photo Courtesy of BSAR.

This week crews used drag bars, gaff hooks and an underwater camera to try to locate signs of two missing travelers under the ice of Kuskokwak Slough near Kwethluk.

Investigators believe the ATV they were riding slipped into a hole on the frozen river this past Thursday night.

141218 BSAR Searchers

This week crews used drag bars, gaff hooks and an underwater camera to try to locate signs of two missing travelers under the ice of Kuskokwak Slough near Kwethluk. Photo Courtesy of BSAR.

Three people traveling on the Kuskokwim River, from Bethel to Akiak were reported missing to troopers at around 5:00 p.m. this past Friday. They were last seen in the Kwethluk area Thursday night. Authorities say the three were traveling at night in snowy weather. On Saturday searchers and State Trooper Air Assets began a search and found the open hole above Kwethluk with a single set of ATV tracks leading into it. They recovered an ATV matching the description of the one the riders were on from the hole. Sunday they recovered the body of 51 year old Ralph ‘Jimmy’ Demantle from the hole. Alaska State Troopers released the names of the two other travelers Monday, 26 year old George Evan, and 27 year old Sally Stone.

Bethel Search and Rescue officials reported Tuesday that they used an underwater camera to locate personal items on the riverbed believed to be from the missing persons, but were unable to retrieve them. Wednesday, BSAR brought a boat from Bethel to search areas at the edges of the open hole.
About 50 volunteers from Akiak, Akiachak, Tuluksak, Kwethluk and Bethel are working to recover the bodies. Troopers say alcohol is believed to be a factor in the incident. The search for Evan and Stone continues.

Bethel Search and Rescue has information online athttp://kusko.net/bsar/.

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