Man rescued off Knik River bar after sinking snowmachine

Kyle Hopkins

A man who was trying to skip his snowmachine across the Knik River Sunday became stranded on a sandbar and was later flown to an Anchorage hospital for treatment, troopers say.

Lester Mitchell, 35, was "water skipping" the vehicle on the Palmer-area river, a couple of hundred feet from Jim Creek, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

But the snowmachine became stuck and submerged in the river, she said. Fishermen soon spotted Mitchell walking on a gravel bar in the middle of the river, Ipsen said.

About three hours later, the fishermen were surprised to see Mitchell was still on the sandbar, lying down, she said. The fishermen called 911.

The incident was reported to troopers at about 4 p.m., Ipsen said. Rescuers launched an airboat near the Glenn Highway and picked Mitchell up, she said.

"The river is very wide and Mitchell was hard to find. Apparently he tried waving (down) other boats that passed by, but he was hard to see," Ipsen wrote in an email.

A trooper suspected Mitchell was hypothermic, Ipsen said. The snowmachiner was transported to a helicopter and flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center, troopers said.

A Providence spokeswoman said Mitchell was not at the hospital as of Monday afternoon.

Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334 or email

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