bethel search and rescue

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Bethel Mayor Rick Rob (left), BSAR President Mike Riley (middle), Red Cross Volunteer Francy Bennett (right). Photo by Adrian Wagner / KYUK.

Mike Riley, Bethel Search and Rescue president, has won the 2016 American Red Cross Real Hero Award.

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Kuskokwim ice rotting upriver from Bethel.

Kuskokwim ice rotting upriver from Bethel. Photo by John Wassilie

Bethel Search and rescue cautioning people not to take cars or trucks on the Kuskokwim River. They say the situation is also dangerous enough and that snowmachines should also stay off the river as much as possible.
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The Alaska State Troopers badge. Courtesy of AST

The Alaska State Troopers badge. Courtesy of AST

Alaska State Troopers and members of the Bethel Search and Rescue recovered the remains of 28-year-old David George Paul of Napaskiak on Friday.
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Kuskokwim River flooding near Chuathbaluk after the initial snow melt last week. (Photo courtesy of Mark Leary.)

Kuskokwim River flooding near Chuathbaluk after the initial snow melt last week. (Photo courtesy of Mark Leary.)

Upriver travel has just gotten harder. Ice crews have removed road markers between Tuluksak and Kalskag and are advising no more truck traffic between these points. That means people upriver will be staying in place or shelling out money for airfare until breakup.

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Evon Wassillie of Akiachak. Photo courtesy of BSAR.

Evon Wassillie of Akiachak. Photo courtesy of BSAR.

Search and Rescue volunteers located the remains of 63-year-old Evon Wassilie of Akiachak on Sunday. He was traveling home by snowmachine at the time of his death.
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The truck that fell into an open hole near Tuluksak. Photo by a RAVN Air pilot.

The truck that fell into an open hole near Tuluksak. Photo by a RAVN Air pilot.

Bethel Search and Rescue is warning the public about holes opening up on the Kuskokwim River during this warm spell, and they’re especially concerned about an area where holes are opening on an established trail.

The volunteer organization says two people traveling on the Kuskokwim by truck upriver fell into an open hole earlier this week but they got out safely.

Searchers say on Tuesday the pair was traveling from Kalskag heading downriver and took a shortcut above Macivik Slough by Tuluksak where they fell into an open hole.
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A 50 year old snowplow dragging steel flats was one of the ways they smoothed out the ice. Photo courtesy of BSAR

A 50 year old snowplow dragging steel flats was one of the ways they smoothed out the ice. Photo courtesy of BSAR

Bethel Search and Rescue announced that middle and upriver Kuskowkim villages of Napaimute, Chuathbaluk, Aniak, Kalskag, and Lower Kalskag combined their efforts to plow and mark a safe ice road for cars and trucks from Tuluksak, to Lower Kalskag, to Aniak, then Chuathbaluk, they expect to mark the trail to Napaimute sometime this week.
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Kuskokwim ice conditions outside Napakiak on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Earl Samuelson.)

Kuskokwim ice conditions outside Napakiak on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Earl Samuelson.)

Overflow, open holes, and isolated break-ups riddle the Kuskokwim River after a storm surge rammed upriver following Sunday and Monday’s storm over the Bering Sea.

Bethel Search and Rescue urges everyone to stay off the waterways between Napakiak and Tuluksak. Read more →

A BSAR member dragging the bottom of the hole looking for the sunken snowmobile. Photo courtesy of BSAR

A BSAR member dragging the bottom of the hole looking for the sunken snowmobile. Photo courtesy of BSAR

The ice is thickening on the Kuskokwim river, and trucks and snow machines have already taken to traveling the frozen route.

With winter setting in safety becomes a vital priority as the season grows colder and conditions become harsher.

Former Bethel Search and Rescue President Peter Atchak and current BSAR member Fritz Charles join Delta Affairs Weekly host Anna Rose MacArthur to talk about cold weather safety.

Learn how to start a fire with your snow machine, what trail markers mean, and why it’s important to never leave your snow machine or vehicle.

Listen:

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Much of the Kuskokwim is bare ice, overflow areas on the sides of the river are a common hazard. Photo taken on March 4 by Charles Enoch

The side of the Kuskokwim by the boat harbor in Bethel. These uneven spots tend to be deeper during high tide. Photo by Charles Enoch

Bethel Search and Rescue chief Mike Riley said much of the trail on the frozen Kuskokwim River has remained stable despite recent spike in temperatures, but there are hazards due to standing water, overflow and glare ice. But the biggest problem, said Riley, is getting on and off the river.
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