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Injured man rescued after spending night on mountain near Whittier

Tegan Hanlon

A 39-year-old man from Texas with an injured leg spent Sunday night on a mountain near Whittier before he was rescued by the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and Alaska Air National Guard on Monday morning, Alaska State Troopers said.

Scott Hueske had hiked several miles off of the trail to Portage Pass toward the summit of Mount Maynard, the mountain the Whittier tunnel cuts through, when he called police around 6:40 p.m. Sunday requesting rescue. He said he was "wet, cold and exhausted" and was wearing only a black sweater with black pants and had no other gear, troopers said.

"He reported he could not walk any farther due to an injured leg," troopers said.

Four searchers from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group responded. Troopers notified the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at 9:40 p.m., but it couldn't send out help because of night vision and hoist requirements, said Maj. Candis Olmstead, spokesman for the Alaska National Guard.

The RCC contacted the Alaska Air National Guard. The Guard sent a HC-130 airplane and helicopter with teams that searched for Hueske overnight, Olmstead said.

By 8:36 a.m. Monday, Hueske had been found, but with "potentially life-threatening injuries," troopers said. Olmstead said Hueske had tried to navigate back to the trail in the dark and had gotten lost. Peters said Hueske had cold-related injuries "consistent with what you'd expect from someone staying overnight on a frozen mountain without any cold weather gear."

Olmstead said Hueske was hypothermic and had complaints of soreness and muscle aches. Temperatures dipped to 35 degrees in Whittier overnight Sunday, but at higher elevations probably hovered around freezing, said Dave Stricklan, a meteorologist with the national weather service.

Hueske was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. He was listed in fair condition by Monday night, according to Ginger Houghton, hospital spokeswoman.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.


By TEGAN HANLON
thanlon@adn.com