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Cantwell couple rescued from Interior Alaska cold, one hypothermic

Jerzy Shedlock

Two Alaskans living in Cantwell, a barely-there community nestled between Anchorage and Denali National Park off the George Parks Highway, needed rescuing after they both went missing Tuesday evening. During the rescue, temperatures were reported to have dipped to 20 degrees below zero.

Alaska State Troopers got a call around 10 p.m. from a concerned family member of the missing people. The caller told troopers that 47-year-old Scott Mayo had gone out to check his trapline and hadn't returned. The man’s disappearance troubled his wife, 56-year-old Vivian Mayo, who decided “to go for help,” according to a trooper dispatch. She also hadn’t returned.

Scott may have left his cabin two days before the call for help was made, said troopers’ spokesperson Megan Peters. Troopers could not say when Vivian departed the cabin.

A wildlife trooper responded to Milepost 105 of the Denali Highway with volunteers in tow.

Vivian was located a mile from her cabin. She told troopers her snowmachine had broken down. The snowmachine had burn marks; it appeared she tried to set it on fire in an attempt to stay warm, Peters said.

Troopers say she was suffering from what appeared be extreme hypothermia; she was in immediate need of medical attention.

Troopers called upon Alaska Air National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) for help. In the meantime, a trooper took Vivian back to her cabin. It was around 1 in the morning when she reached home; nearly three hours had passed since the call to troopers.

RCC responded with a Pavehawk helicopter and C-130 turboprop to the search area. Two hours later, a trooper reported he had not yet found Scott Mayo, but he believed he’d found the hunter’s trail.

At 5:13 a.m., the RCC’s turboprop spotted Scott near a small fire. The Pavehawk plucked the man from the wilderness. He was reportedly in good condition. Still, both the Mayos were transported via helicopter to an Anchorage hospital.

A Providence Alaska Medical Center spokesperson said the Mayos have been treated and released.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @jerzyms