The search for a Sitka man missing since Monday on a mountain hike near the Southeast Alaska community is continuing Friday, with dozens of people trying to locate him.
Michael Hansen, 37, was last seen descending the Mount Verstovia Trail between the summit and Picnic Rock at about 3:20 p.m. Monday, according to Alaska State Troopers. Sitka Search and Rescue volunteers, supported by U.S. Coast Guard helicopters, had been searching for him since Tuesday afternoon.
Lance Ewers, Sitka Search and Rescue's volunteer captain, said Friday morning that more than 20 ground searchers, down from a peak of 50 on Wednesday, were looking for Hansen. Search-and-rescue dogs as well as U.S. Forest Service employees were also involved in Friday's search, according to Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.
Efforts were being concentrated on Mount Verstovia itself, Ewers said, after Hansen's vehicle containing a map of the mountain was found Tuesday at the Mount Verstovia trailhead.
Thursday search efforts were hindered by a storm moving into the area, but Ewers said many areas of Mount Verstovia were searched before the storm, and teams concentrated efforts Thursday on the mountain's lower elevations and nearby beach areas due to the poor weather. Searchers followed up on leads and found many footprints, but "nothing conclusive" in terms of specific signs of Hansen.
Ewers hoped to double the 20 searchers initially deployed Friday later in the day, as rescue groups use Sitka media outlets and online posts to request additional help.
"We're just asking community volunteers who are familiar with Mount Verstovia, as well as the Indian River drainage area, to come down to the fire hall and receive a duty assignment," Ewers said. "We're definitely going to need more people because the search is exhausting, to be frank."
Anyone who has seen Hansen or has word on his whereabouts is asked to call either Sitka Search and Rescue via the Sitka Fire Department at 907-747-3233 or Alaska State Troopers at 907-465-4000.