Wilderness searches target missing Southeast residents

Anchorage Daily NewsJune 27, 2012 

Separate searches for two missing people in Southeast Alaska have volunteer rescuers and Alaska State Troopers from Ketchikan scouring the wilderness, troopers say.

A trooper went to check on 60-year-old Hyder resident Cathleen Currie at her home, a yurt next to the Salmon River, on June 21 and didn't find her. Someone reported seeing her later that day, but troopers received a call four days later from Hyder residents who said Currie still hadn't been seen, said troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

On Tuesday, members of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad boarded a ferry with their command vehicle, landed in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and drove to Hyder, Ipsen said. They were searching on the ground and by helicopter Wednesday, she said.

Another person, 25-year-old Wrangell resident Colin Buness, set out June 19 to kayak and hike the Kikahe and Stikine rivers, troopers said. Buness used a beacon to report his location on June 22, but didn't indicate he was in trouble or needed help, Ipsen said.

"We have his last-known coordinates," Ipsen said. "It's in the middle of nowhere."

Buness didn't return as expected on June 24, and his father, a member of the rescue squad, reported him missing, Ipsen said. Searchers on Tuesday found what they think are a raft and cup that belong to Buness, she said, and a Coast Guard helicopter equipped with infrared sensors flew the area looking for him.

As of about noon Wednesday, neither person had been reported found, Ipsen said. Still, communication from both search areas had been sporadic, so the most current information was difficult to come by, the troopers spokeswoman said.

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Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

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