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Troopers encounter wanted man while rescuing stranded aurora hunters

Michelle Theriault Boots

Four Taiwanese tourists on their way to an aurora borealis viewing lodge were rescued by troopers Friday after their car got stuck on a remote mining road off the Steese Highway, north of Fairbanks.

On the way to pick the women up, troopers ran into a wanted man and arrested him, Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

The four young women -- whose names have not been released by troopers -- were about seven miles off the Steese Highway near Mile Post 24 on Friday night, trying to make their way to the Aurora Borealis Lodge, located atop Cleary Summit in an area popular with aurora chasers.

They apparently overshot their destination and got into trouble trying to turn their rented Toyota Camry around on the single-lane dirt road, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

The weather at the time was mild for the area: 4 degrees above zero, but with high winds.

One of the women was able to use her cellphone to call 911 at 8:30 p.m.

The group stayed calm and warm inside the car until troopers showed up around 10 p.m., Ipsen said. Troopers found the women about four miles down the road.

"They didn't seem too frazzled," Ipsen said. "They were really good sports."

In the process of responding to the stalled tourists, troopers stumbled on 35-year-old Michael Scott of Sutton on the same narrow mining road. He was in a vehicle with a drunk woman, Ipsen said.

When they checked his information they found he was wanted on a $500 warrant for failure to appear.

Scott was arrested on his warrant. The intoxicated woman, whose name is not being release by troopers, was taken home by troopers.

And the Taiwanese tourists got a ride to the Aurora Borealis Lodge, with the help of an employee who came out to ferry some of them there by snowmachine.

Things worked out OK for them, Ipsen said.

"Apparently they got a good northern lights show," Ipsen said.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.